FB Didn’t Act Against Bajrang Dal, Others Over Hate Speech: Report

The Wall Street Journal reported that FB took no action to ensure its India operations and staff were not impacted.

Published
India
2 min read
Social media giant Facebook feared crackdown in India by taking actions against right-wing groups Bajrang Dal, Sanatan Sanstha and Sri Ram Sena for hate-speech violations, a report by the Wall Street Journal has revealed.
i

Social media giant Facebook refrained from taking action against right-wing groups Bajrang Dal, Sanatan Sanstha and Sri Ram Sena for hate-speech violations, fearing crackdown on its India operations, a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has revealed.

Despite the company’s safety team’s conclusion that Bajrang Dal should be banned from the platform, Facebook ‘balked’ at removing the group, the report pointed out.

WHAT DID FACEBOOK’S INTERNAL SURVEY SAY ABOUT BAJRANG DAL?

Citing sources close to the matter, WSJ reported that Facebook’s safety team earlier this year concluded that Bajrang Dal supported violence against minorities and likely qualified as a “dangerous organisation” which should be banned from the platform.

An internal letter and posts on the platform’s discussion groups by a bunch of its employees suggested that the presence of Bajrang Dal, among other organisations, casts doubt on the company’s commitment to tackle hate speech in India.

WHAT FACEBOOK POLICY DO THE GROUPS VIOLATE?

The report revealed that Facebook’s human rights staff have internally designated India a “Tier One” country, which means it is at the highest risk of societal violence and therefore requires heightened efforts by the company to protect vulnerable populations.

The other countries designated in this category by Facebook are Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

WHY DID FACEBOOK TAKE NO ACTION AGAINST THE GROUPS?

According to the report, Facebook refrained from taking action against the group after its security team’s concerns that doing so could adversely impact its business prospects in India and inflict physical harm on its employees.

The prospect of upsetting the political dispensation of “India’s ruling Hindu nationalist politicians” was also considered.

Unlike many other countries that does not have staff on ground, Facebook has five offices in India including in New Delhi and Mumbai, which the company’s security team considered as potential risks of retaliation from extremists.

Moreover, India is Facebook’s biggest market by users. Facebook has staff on the ground, and recently invested $5.7 billion in a new retail venture.

WHAT DID FACEBOOK SAY ABOUT THE REPORT?

Facebook spokesman Andy Stone called the company’s process for determining what entities must be banned “careful, rigorous and multidisciplinary”.

“We enforce our Dangerous Individuals and Organisations policy globally without regard to political position or party affiliation,” Stone told WSJ.

Stone said the security team’s warning that banning Bajrang Dal could endanger both Facebook’s interests and employees was “a subject for discussion as part of the standard process.”

He did not comment on WSJ’s query whether Facebook had ultimately determined that the group didn’t qualify as being dangerous.

WHAT DID THE RIGHT-WING GROUPS SAY IN RESPONSE?

A Bajrang Dal spokesman told WSJ that its members don’t take part in illegal activities and that it doesn’t have conflicts with other religious groups.

A Sanatan Sanstha spokesman was quoted by the report as saying that the group isn’t dangerous and doesn’t engage in hate speech.

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!