Facebook Officials to Be Summoned by Delhi Panel as Proceedings Begin on ‘Hateful Content’ Issue


A Delhi Assembly panel on peace and harmony decided on Tuesday to summon Facebook officials as it initiated proceedings over complaints about the social media giant”s alleged “deliberate and intentional inaction to contain hateful content” in India, an official statement said.

The development comes in the backdrop of a report published in the Wall Street Journal recently, citing 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.

“It was unanimously decided by the committee, upon the revelations and insights gathered by the witnesses, that Facebook officials must be called upon to carry out a painstaking investigation into the allegations made by the complainants which were supported by the witnesses as well as the depositions of key witnesses summoned,” the statement said.

The committee will “soon issue notices to top officials of Facebook” to examine them on record, it said. During depositions by “expert witnesses” and some journalists at the proceedings, panel chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha, asked a range of questions over the alleged “Facebook BJP relationship”, hateful content and the role of social media in “aggravating” riots in Delhi earlier this year.

Witnesses Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a senior journalist and co-author of the book ”The Real Face of Facebook in India”, and Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist, gave their expert opinion on the alleged accusations raised in the complaints received by the assembly panel against Facebook.

Last week, senior BJP leader and Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that it was for Facebook to decide what to do as far as the new report in the Wall Street Journal is concerned. He had said that hundreds of pages of BJP supporters were also removed by Facebook.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology has also summoned Facebook on September 2 to discuss the issue of alleged misuse of social media platforms.

Earlier, Facebook had said its social media platform prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence and these policies are enforced globally without regard to political affiliation.

“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 had said.

Should the government explain why Chinese apps were banned? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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