Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking for a probe against Facebook’s senior management in India, reported ANI on Wednesday, 2 September. This comes in the aftermath of the slew of allegations raised by international media against Facebook’s purported bias towards the Bhartiya Janta Party, and ahead of elections in West Bengal.
WHAT DOES THE LETTER SAY?
“We, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Ind’a second-largest opposition party, have had serious concerns about Facebook’s role during the 2014 and 2019 General Elections in India,” wrote O’Brien. Then, he went on to point out how they had flagged their concerns regarding the alleged role in June 2019 in Parliament. Enclosing a video of the same, O’Brien wrote:
“We were optimistic that the issues and concerns we raised on the floor of Parliament 14 months ago would empower other political parties and the media to also address the substantive issue. The recent series of articles that appeared in BBC, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Time Magazine and other, vindicate our stand.”
O’Brien also went on to state that with the West Bengal elections round the order, Facebooks recent blocking of pages and accounts in Bengal further indicates the existence of a link between Facebook and the BJP.
“There is enough material now in the public domain, including internal memos of senior Facebook management, to substantiate the bias,” he wrote.
O’Brien also stated that he had expressed some of his concerns, in the interest of transparency, to Zuckerberg a few years ago, as well.
“Please do all it takes to urgently work towards maintaining the integrity of your platform in the Indian electoral process,” wrote O’Brien
In August, this year, a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report detailed how Facebook India executive Ankhi Das posted messages in support of the BJP for several years on a Facebook group of the company's employees.
According to the WSJ report, her posts had even detailed her efforts to help the saffron party win the 2014 national elections.
WSJ accessed postings of Das on Facebook's internal communications systems that were perceived to be openly supportive of the BJP. “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history,” she wrote on the group. “It’s taken thirty years of grassroots work to rid India of state socialism finally,” read another post by her.
In an earlier investigative report, WSJ had pointed out how Ankhi Das had opposed enforcement of hate-speech rules against BJP and other Hindutva leaders.
(With inputs from ANI).