Ravi Shankar Prasad writes to Zuckerberg; condemns internal ideology war at Facebook
Union IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has shot off a terse letter to Facebook founder and chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg calling for “country specific Community Guidelines” which will “respect the social, religions, cultural and linguistic diversity of India.”

Currently, Facebook employs their own Community Standard guidelines to moderate content in India, including hate speech and follow global standards set out by their parent company.

ET had reported on Tuesday, that officials have started deliberations that whether social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter should be allowed to have the power to censor or moderate content as per their own guidelines in the country.

The letter sent on September 1 and reviewed by ET has also said that before the run-up to the 2019 General Elections, there was a concerted effort by Facebook India management to not just delete pages or substantially reduce their reach but also offer no recourse or right of appeal to affected people who are supportive of the “right-of-centre ideology.”He said that dozens of emails written to Facebook management received no response and cases of bias and inaction are a direct outcome of the dominant political beliefs of individuals in the Facebook India team.

“As a transnational digital platform, Facebook must not only be fair and neutral, but also visibly seen to be so, to users of diverse beliefs and ideologies. Individuals working in any organization may have their individual likes or dislikes, but that must not have any bearing on the public policies and performance of the organization.”

He has also condemned selective leaks to the international media which raise allegations of the social media giant and its policy team led by Ankhi Das favoured the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party political brass. He says that the leaks are a result of internal ideology war in Facebook.

Last week, a Wall Street Journal article alleged that Facebook had shown favouritism to the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) by not acting on hate speech posts by its leaders.

As a political slugfest has erupted over the current issue, Amit Malviya, national head, information and technology for BJP told ET last week that in the run up to the 2019 general elections, Facebook unilaterally struck off over 700 pages without assigning “any reason”.

“This debate around hate speech is skewed because what constitutes hate speech or otherwise will be determined by India’s rules and regulations and constitutional frameworks and not by community standards of a particular social media platform. It also needs to apply uniformly,” he had said.

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