Following new reports about the BJP's social media tactics to influence voters, the opposition coalition 'INDIA' has called on Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to ensure that their respective platforms "remain neutral."
"Such blatant partisanship and bias towards one political formation by a private foreign company is tantamount to interfering in India's democracy, one that we in the INDIA alliance will not take lightly," INDIA leaders said in two separate letters dated Wednesday, 11 October.
Last month, The Washington Post published a series of reports, one of which highlighted how the ruling party had allegedly spread divisive content through a network of WhatsApp groups in the run up to the Karnataka Assembly elections.
The US-based daily also exposed disinformation networks reportedly operated by the Indian Army's Chinar Corps in Kashmir.
Finally, it covered how cow vigilante Monu Manesar, who has been arrested on murder charges, built a following on YouTube by streaming violent content.
What Are the Concerns Raised in INDIA's Letters?
"It is very clear from these exhaustive investigations by the Washington Post that Meta [and YouTube] is culpable of abetting social disharmony and inciting communal hatred in India. Further, we have data that shows algorithmic moderation and suppression of Opposition leaders' content on your platform while also promoting ruling party content," the letters read.
Signed by the Congress party's general secretary KC Venugopal, the two letters was also carried the names of 15 Opposition leaders, including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, party leader Rahul Gandhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Shiv Sena (UBT) head Uddhav Thackeray, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Communist Party of India (CPI (M)) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, Omar Abdullah from the J&K National Conference leader, and People's Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti, among others.
"In light of the upcoming national elections in 2024, it is our earnest and urgent plea to you to consider these facts seriously and ensure immediately that Meta's [Alphabet's] operations in India remain neutral and are not used wittingly or unwittingly to cause social unrest or distort India's much cherished democratic ideals."INDIA coalition in letters to Meta, Google
Invoking Mahatma Gandhi, the INDIA leaders further said, "We are confident that you and Meta [Alphabet] also yearn for a harmonious India that the Mahatma wished for."