Facebook should have country-specific community guidelines for India: Ravi Shankar Prasad

In a strongly-worded letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Union Minister raised concerns about vested interests within the company who are silencing right-of-centre ideologies

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 2, 2020 9:33 AM
Ravi Shankar Prasad Mark Zuckerberg

The Union Minister of Law and Justice, Electronics and Information Technology and Communications  Ravi Shankar Prasad has penned a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, highlighting alleged interference of the tech giant's employees in "India's political process through gossips, whispers and innuendos." Prasad contended that a certain group of employees at Facebook were colluding with the international media in tarnishing the image of India's democratic processes and exhibiting bias towards certain ideologies.

He also pointed out that there were concerted efforts by Facebook India management to delete pages or reduce the reach of posts that are supportive of right-of-centre views during the 2019 General Elections. Prasad also alleged that the affected users were also denied "no recourse or right of appeal." The instances of "bias and inaction" are an outcome of certain individuals' dominant political beliefs, according to him.

"I would like to point out that there have been multiple instances recently where Facebook has been used by anarchic & radical elements, whose sole aim is to destroy social order, to recruit people and to assemble them for violence. However, we are yet to see any meaningful action against such elements. Is this action also held back by the same vested interest groups who have an incentive in stoking political violence in India?" read the letter.

The letter alluded to Wall Street Journal's allegations that Facebook's policy head Ankhi Das showed clear political bias towards the ruling BJP, citing her recent soft stance against a BJP leader's post and an internal message she sent out in 2014 after the party won the general elections.

Calling Facebook a "transnational digital platform," Prasad wrote that it should be fair, neutral and open to diverse ideologies. "Individuals working in any organization may have their individual likes and dislikes, but that must not have any bearing on the public policies and performances of the organization," he emphasised.

Prasad also raised concerns about Facebook employees going on record "abusing" the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The letter also addressed Facebook's dependence on third-parties for fact checking. "How can Facebook absolve itself of its responsibility to protect users from misinformation and instead outsource this to shady organizations with no credibility," it read.

He wrote that Facebook Community Guidelines should acknowledge diversity and respect it. "To respect the social, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity of India, Facebook should put in place country specific Community Guidelines," he stressed.

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