The Congress on Monday demanded a probe into reports on Facebook ignoring rules when it comes to hate speeches by BJP politicians. Notably, the Congress made the demand following a report in the Wall Street Journal. Firstly
The report claimed that Facebook ignored applying its hate speech rules to politicians of the ruling party in India.
The publication of the report resulted in a political slugfest between the BJP and the Congress. The Congress has demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) into the allegations made against Facebook in the report.
Rahul Gandhi blames BJP
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP and RSS of spreading “fake news” using Facebook and WhatsApp to influence the electorate.
“BJP & RSS control Facebook & Whatsapp in India. They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate. Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook,” Gandhi said.
BJP & RSS control Facebook & Whatsapp in India.
They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate.
Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook. pic.twitter.com/Y29uCQjSRP
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 16, 2020
The Congress demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the charges mentioned in the report. It said the charges threaten the foundation of Indian democracy and need to be investigated.
BJP hits back
Rahul Gandhi’s statement drew a sharp retort from Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Union minister reminded the Congress of the Cambridge Analytica issue.
Hitting back, Prasad tweeted, “Losers who cannot influence people even in their own party keep cribbing that the entire world is controlled by BJP and RSS.”
“You were caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica and Facebook to weaponise data before the elections and now have the gall to question us,” he said.
Countering Gandhi’s remarks, Prasad also said, “The fact is that today access to information and freedom of expression has been democratized. It is no longer controlled by retainers of your family and that is why it hurts.”
The fact is that today access to information and freedom of expression has been democratized. It is no longer controlled by retainers of your family and that is why it hurts.
Btw, haven’t yet heard your condemnation of the Bangalore riots. Where did your courage disappear?
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) August 16, 2020
Prasad’s reference to Cambridge Analytica was about the allegations the Congress faced in 2018. As per the allegations, the UK-based firm offered Congress mining of Facebook posts to influence voters in 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Congress had rejected the charges.
What is in the report?
In the report published on Friday, the US newspaper cited interviews with unnamed Facebook insiders to claim that one of its senior India policy executives intervened in internal communication to stop a permanent ban on a BJP MLA from Telangana after he allegedly made communally charged posts.
There was no immediate comment on the issue by Facebook, for whom India is one of the fastest-growing markets globally with over 340 million users.
Shashi Tharoor seeks response from Facebook
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said the panel would like to hear from Facebook about the report.
“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology would certainly wish to hear from Facebook about these reports and what they propose to do about hate-speech in India,” he tweeted.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, reacting to Tharoor’s comments, said the subjects which are permissible and are in accordance with rules of parliamentary standing committees could be raised. secondly
But at the same time, he added that these panels should not be made a political platform by members to satisfy “ego of their respective party leaders”.
Ajay Maken demands JPC in conclusion
Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken, at a virtual press conference, In addition,
demanded a JPC probe into the charges that Facebook ignored its hate speech policy in dealing with BJP lawmakers.
“The Congress party demands a JPC probe to ascertain the charges on how Facebook is helping the
BJP in elections and in spreading hatred and fake news in society.
There should be a JPC probe on how Facebook is helping the BJP,” he told reporters.
He said Facebook global should also hold a probe to ascertain the alleged links of some
of its employees with the ruling party, to help protect its own credibility.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted:
“Facebook-Whatsapp sinister connection to BJP Government exposed.”
Facebook responds to allegations Therefore
“We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political
position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we’re making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits
of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy,” a Facebook spokesperson said. Lastly
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