We’re Transparent & Non-Partisan, Claims Facebook India VP in Blog

“(We) want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” the Facebook VP wrote in a blog.

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Amid the controversy over Facebook's hate speech policies and their enforcement in India in the aftermath of a Wall Street Journal report, the vice president and managing director of Facebook India has put out a blog asserting that the social media platform "is and always has been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely."

Listing out Facebook’s policies and their enforcement to curb hate speech on the platform, VP Ajit Mohan, in the blog, said, "Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form."

What the Blog Says

Specifically on the issue of hate speech, the Facebook executive said, "We have an impartial approach to dealing with content and are strongly governed by our Community Standards. We enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural belief. We have removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India when it violates our Community Standards.”

He also went on to claim that the “decisions about designating people or groups as ‘dangerous individuals or organisations’ are different”. “Because the penalty associated with designation is so severe, it’s important that our analysis is comprehensive and detailed, and that our process applies consistently and fairly around the world,” he said.

Acknowledging that more needs to be done to tackle hate speech on the platform, Mohan said the company will continue to invest in their efforts, welcoming the opportunity to “engage with all parties – political or otherwise – who want to understand our content policies and enforcement more".

The Background

The VP's blog comes days after an investigative report in The Wall Street Journal pointed out how political affiliations have had bearing on the implementation of policies by Facebook in India.

The report revealed how, despite the insistence of Facebook employees to permanently ban the profile of BJP MP T Raja Singh for promoting hate speech, the company's top public policy executive in India, Ankhi Das, blocked applying hate speech rules to Singh.

Singh is not the only BJP leader Das opposed applying hate speech rules to. She never initiated action against at least three other Hindu nationalist groups and individuals who had been flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, the report said, citing current and former employees of Facebook.

These employees told WSJ that Das had blocked the idea by telling staff members that punishing violations by politicians from PM Narendra Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in India.

A political slugfest between the Congress and the BJP in the aftermath of this report has also intensified. Now, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is slated to meet on 2 September, with the purpose of the meeting being to hear the views of Facebook executives on the prevention of misuse of social media platforms.

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