Congress writes to Facebook CEO again after another report alleges bias in favour of BJP
Following an article in the Time magazine, the Opposition party also demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the alleged 'links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment'
New Delhi: The Congress on Saturday wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the second time in a month, asking what steps were being taken on repeated allegations about the global social media giant's India unit being biased towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
At a press conference, the Opposition party also demanded an investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee into the alleged "links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment".
— INC Sandesh (@INCSandesh) August 29, 2020
The Congress' letter to Zuckerberg came over an article in Time magazine, which the Opposition party claimed "revealed" more information and "evidence of biases and a quid pro quo relationship" of Facebook India with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
There was no immediate reaction from Facebook or the BJP on the allegations. A report in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month had brought to fore similar allegations, which were strongly rejected by both Facebook and the BJP.
After the controversy had broken out, the BJP had attacked the Congress over the Opposition party's allegations, saying people whose political base has "shrunk like anything" seek to dominate discourse on these platforms while asserting that everybody regardless of his ideology has got the right to air his views there.
Senior party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad had said that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi believes that any organisation that does not work to his liking is acting under the pressure of the BJP and the RSS.
BJP IT department head Amit Malviya has also cited the instances of certain Facebook officials' biases against the ruling party and had even communicated to the social media giant about it.
Facebook had earlier said the company's social media platform prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence, adding these policies are enforced globally without regard to political affiliation.
However, Facebook, which counts India among its largest markets globally, acknowledged that "there is more to do".
Tagging the Time magazine report, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claimed in a tweet that it exposes the "WhatsApp-BJP nexus". "Used by 40 Cr Indians, WhatsApp also wants to be used for making payments for which Modi Government's approval is needed. Thus, BJP has a hold over WhatsApp," he alleged, without elaborating.
Popular messaging app WhatsApp is also owned by Facebook.
In his letter to Zuckerberg, Congress general secretary organisation, KC Venugopal, referred to his earlier letter dated 17 August in which the party had requested the US-based company to investigate the allegations made in the Wall Street Journal article that the social media platform refused to apply hate speech rules to certain BJP politicians.
"We draw your attention to the article in Time magazine dated 27 August that reveals more information and evidence of biases and a quid-pro-quo relationship of Facebook India with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party," Venugopal said in the new letter dated 27 August and asked for details of steps being taken by the group.
"We will also be pursuing legislative and judicial actions in India to ensure that a foreign company cannot continue to cause social disharmony in our nation for their pursuit of private profits," he said.
At the party's press conference, spokesperson Pawan Khera and AICC data analytics department chief Praveen Chakravarty called for an "exhaustive and unbiased investigation by a Joint Parliamentary Committee between the unending links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment".
"The investigation must include how Facebook manipulated voter opinion, allowed hate speech and was oblivious to fake news, even when they were in clear violation of their own regulations," they said in a statement.
"WhatsApp cannot be granted approvals for its payment operations until the inquiry is complete and the recommended actions are taken by the company," Khera and Chakravarty said.
They also demanded that the report of the investigation ordered by Facebook into the conduct of its Indian unit be made public.
India recovered from a slow start to the tournament to eventually beat Nepal 3-0 in the summit clash on Sunday, winning their eighth SAFF title in the process.
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Talking about India's opponents in the SAFF Championships final, Chhetri praised Nepal’s ability to play as a unit and said that the team is prepared to slog it out on the pitch.