In a letter to Zuckerberg, Congress general secretary K C Venugopal demanded that Facebook should “publish all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 that were allowed on the platform”. He also said that pending an internal investigation and submission of the report, the company should “consider a new team to lead Facebook India operations so as to not influence the probe”.
The letter came a day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter that “BJP controls Facebook and WhatsApp”. On Tuesday, Gandhi shared a copy of Venugopal’s letter on Twitter and said, “We cannot allow any manipulation of our hard-earned democracy through bias, fake news and hate speech. As exposed by WSJ, Facebook’s involvement in peddling fake and hate news needs to be questioned by all Indians.”
Referencing the August 14 Wall Street Journal story that said Facebook had flouted its own policies on hate speech and not taken down communally sensitive content by BJP leaders because doing so would hurt the social media company’s business interests, Venugopal said, “Set up a high-level inquiry by Facebook headquarters into the Facebook India leadership team and their operations and submit a report to the Board of Facebook within one or two months. The report should also be made public.”
Referring to the allegations as “Facebook India’s interference in India’s electoral democracy,” Venugopal also said in his letter the matter will be raised in Parliament. “We believe it is still not too late to course correct and make amends. The starting point for remedial action is a thorough and impartial investigation and inquiry into the Facebook India operations and practices,” he added.
The row over Facebook’s alleged bias is likely to come up for discussion in the September 1 and 2 meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on information technology.