Two months before a Wall Street Journal report alleged that Facebook had turned a blind eye to hate speech by a BJP leader and right-wing groups, national convenor of BJP’s IT cell Amit Malviya had written two emails to the technology giant in June, calling for action against an employee for “anti-BJP bias”.
Asked if his letters were written to influence and intimidate the Facebook manager and the social media giant’s employees, Malviya told TOI, “It is quite disconcerting to know that my privileged correspondence with Facebook has found its way to the media… details of several employees of the social media firm show they have been active anti-BJP campaigners. This nexus must be probed and exposed.”
In emails to Facebook India Policy head Ankhi Das written on June 18 and 19 respectively, copies of which are with TOI, Malviya sought action against one of the company’s public policy managers, claiming that the employee’s “primary mandate is to interface with the government and the BJP”, but he was “misusing the information he may be privy to as a result of his role in the company” and leaking it on social media. The email also contained links to tweets that the employee was allegedly posting from a social media profile.
Asking Facebook to give this the “highest priority” and “proceed as per ethics and standards that the company has set for itself”, Malviya said, “We have taken a very dim view of this but will wait for your revert before deciding on the next steps (sic).”
He said in one of the mails: “We have observed the employee has been making some very vicious comments, using his social media profile, which besides being tasteless, undignified, abusive and misogynistic, also betrays his visceral hate for the prime minister, his cabinet colleagues and the party he is supposed to relationship-manage.”
A senior Facebook employee familiar with the developments told TOI that both BJP and Congress have alleged that the company was biased against the other political party. “Doesn’t this prove we are not involved with either?” said the official, adding that the company would release an official statement on charges levelled by Malviya against its employee.
Facebook has been summoned by a parliamentary panel headed by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor that will hear its representatives on September 2 on accusations levelled in the WSJ report.