The Indian Overseas Congress, USA has written to the Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the members of the members of the India Caucus to investigate Facebook’s meddling in the Indian electoral politics in favor of BJP, a Hindu nationalist party currently in power. The letter expresses serious concern over Facebook’s election-year interference, content bias, and the selective suppression of Indian citizens’ free expression.
The letter was triggered by a report in the Wallstreet Journal that detailed how Ankhi Das, a top executive in charge of the content, instructed her colleagues and said, “punishing violations by politicians from @narendramodi party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.
“India is the largest market for FACEBOOK and FACEBOOK owned WhatsApp in terms of the number of users, and therefore these companies have a huge responsibility in managing the content without religious bias and bigotry. However, FACEBOOK and WhatsApp have chosen the side of those that incite violence and encourage instability that has led to the destruction of lives and property” the letter further added.
The letter went on to say that “We recognize that India is an important partner in the region for the United States strategically and economically. But the actions of FACEBOOK and WhatsApp are undermining the democratic institutions and threatening the religious minorities. Under the Modi Administration, freedom of expression is being suppressed, media is being muzzled, judicial independence is being destroyed, and religious freedom is under attack, and the behavior of FACEBOOK is a prime example of influential businesses becoming enablers of such actions. This is a matter of great concern to the Indian Diaspora in the United States”.
The organization is actively seeking a congressional investigation into the abuses by Facebook and has formally requested that ” we respectfully request you to hold Congressional hearings on FACEBOOK’s efforts which undermine the values of liberal democracies in countries like India, drastically altering its political discourse like it has in the US and elsewhere.”
Ref: “Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics”, Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-hate-speech-india-politics-muslim-hindu-modi-zuckerberg-11597423346
“Facebook Executive Supported India’s Modi, Disparaged Opposition in Internal Messages”, Wall Street Journal.https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-executive-supported-indias-modi-disparaged-opposition-in-internal-messages-11598809348
“Who Were The Key Players Responsible for Facebook’s Support to Modi and the BJP?”, Newsclick. https://www.newsclick.in/part-3-who-were-key-players-responsible-facebooks-support-modi-and-bjp
“Facebook Ties to India’s BJP Under Scrutiny Over Hate Speech”, Time. https://time.com/5883993/india-facebook-hate-speech-bjp/
“Three Out of Facebook’s Seven Fact Checking Partners Have Shared Misinformation”, Alt News. https://www.altnews.in/3-out-of-facebooks-7-fact-checking-partners-have-shared-misinformation-post-pulwama/
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