BJP IT cell doxxed my phone number with a hate message on Facebook. This is how the mob attack & threat campaign started.
Despite reporting those posts, Facebook kept them.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) August 16, 2020
A top Facebook official in India was opposed to applying the social media platform’s hate speech rules to many Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”, according to a new report published by The Wall Street Journal.
This was despite the fact that the content posted by these individuals or groups had been “flagged internally for promoting violence”.
The Wall Street Journal in its report says that Ankhi Das, who is Facebook’s top public policy executive in India, opposed applying hate speech rules to the BJP’s T. Raja Singh out of fear of ruining the company’s relationship with the ruling party.
Ankhi Das, whose job includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Indian PM’s party for ‘anti-muslim posts’ would damage the company’s business prospects, the WSJ report said.
To. pick up a single case study Singh is the saffron party’s lone MLA in the Telangana assembly and is notorious for making communally provocative statements.
“The current and former Facebook employees said Ms. Das’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Singh is part of a broader pattern of favoritism by Facebook toward Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners,” it added.
A company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that while Das had raised concerns about the political fallout that would result from designating Singh a “dangerous individual”, her opposition was not the sole factor that determined whether the BJP politician should remain on the platform.
The spokesperson added that Facebook is still considering whether it will ban Singh.
In another case “In April of last year, days before voting began in India’s general election, Facebook announced it had taken down inauthentic pages tied to Pakistan’s military and the Congress party, the BJP’s main rival party. But it didn’t disclose it also removed pages with false news tied to the BJP, because Ms. Das intervened,” the report said, quoting unnamed former Facebook employees.
According to the media report, several posts by Singh and BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde, which were filled with anti-Muslim rhetoric, were not deleted by Facebook until it was brought to their attention by Wall Street Journal reporters.
“Facebook deleted some of Mr. Singh’s postings after the Journal asked about them. It said Mr. Singh no longer is permitted to have an official, verified account, designated with a blue check mark badge,” the report notes.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Das’s team also took “no action” after BJP politicians posted content accusing Muslims of intentionally spreading the coronavirus, plotting against the nation and making a noise about “love jihad” – the term the Sangh parivar uses to describe a mythical conspiracy by Muslims men seeking to seduce and marry Hindu women in order to convert them to Islam.
In addition to this, unnamed former employees quoted by the US newspaper claim that Das had also provided the BJP with “favourable treatment on election-related issues”.