Congress on Saturday, 29 August, wrote a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the second time in a month, and has asked him what specific steps have been taken by Facebook to investigate the charges against its operations in India.
Targeting Facebook, the Congress in the letter claimed that the BJP has been allowed to exercise control over WhatsApp’s India operations in return for a possible licence for its payment operations.
Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation KC Venugopal, in the letter, asked Zuckerberg to explain what actions Facebook was taking to investigate the charges and “stem the rot” as well as a report claiming that even WhatsApp, used by 400 million Indians, is compromised and controlled indirectly by the BJP.
The letter refers to the report by Time magazine, saying that it “reveals more information and evidence of biases and a quid-pro-quo relationship of Facebook India with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party”.
“The Whatsapp platform used by 400 million Indians has been willingly allowed by your Indian team to be appropriated for hate speech and the consequent tearing of India’s fabric of social harmony,” the letter also states.
The Congress leader said that the party is “compelled to write again in such a short span” and alleged that “more than just one person in his company’s leadership team in India is biased and partisan in favour of ruling BJP in their professional endeavours.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday, tweeted the Time magazine report, and claimed that it exposes the “WhatsApp-BJP nexus".
He alleged: “Used by 40 crore Indians, WhatsApp also wants to be used for making payments for which Modi Government's approval is needed. Thus, BJP has a hold over WhatsApp."
In a Congress press conference, spokesperson Pawan Khera and AICC data analytics department chief Praveen Chakravarty asked for an "exhaustive and unbiased investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee between the unending links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment."
Congress’ First Letter to Zuckerberg
On 18 August, All India Congress Committee had sent a letter to the Facebook CEO, referring to the Wall Street Journal’s explosive report about how Facebook decided not to take action against Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and affiliates for hate speech, at the behest of policy head Ankhi Das, but there was no immediate reaction from Facebook.
After the Congress released the first letter, Law and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar responded, saying: “In the past, Sonia Gandhi had said this is 'aar-paar ki ladaai' & Rahul Gandhi said 'Public will beat PM Modi with sticks'; Is this not hate speech?”
Prasad had previously also traded barbs with the Congress on this issue. After Rahul had tweeted about the BJP and RSS controlling Facebook and Whatsapp in India and using them to spread fake news and hatred, Prasad had argued that the Congress had been caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook to “weaponise data before the elections”
(With inputs from PTI)