Facebook has promised the Congress that it will continuously remove hate posts by Indian public figures from its platforms and also assured the Opposition party of its commitment to “non-partisan approach” and opposition to “hate and bigotry in all forms”.
“On the question of hateful content by public figures, we want to assure you that our community standards prohibit attacks against people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, caste, ethnicity, and national origin. In line with our hate speech policy, we have removed and will continue to remove hateful content by public figures in India on our platforms”, Neil Potts, public policy director at Facebook Inc, wrote to AICC general secretary (Org) K C Venugopal on Thursday.
Venugopal had complained to Facebook Inc chief Mark Zuckerberg, alleging “political bias” and negligence in deleting certain kind of hate posts by the Facebook India team heads. The AICC had also threatened legal actions.
“We want to take this opportunity to state that we are non-partisan and strive to ensure that our platforms remain a space where people can express themselves freely. We take allegations of bias seriously and want to make clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in all forms”, Potts further assured AICC.
Facebook Inc’s assurance, incidentally, comes in the midst of a Parliamentary Standing Committee grilling its India team leaders over alleged political bias by the social media platform.
Given AICC had specifically complained against the its India head, the Facebook HQ representative explained that its public policy was framed in wide consultations with experts and inputs from a cross-section of internal teams. “These decisions are not made unilaterally by any one person; rather, they are inclusive of different views from teams around the company…”.
Pointing out that Facebook removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech content from April-June in 2020, up from 1.6 million pieces of hate speech content removed in the last quarter of 2017, Pott further promised; “We know there is much more to do and will continue to invest our efforts to combat hate speech on our services. Public policy is a diverse team representing a varied political spectrum… Together, we have a non-partisan approach in dealing with content and have designed systems to ensure we are enforcing policies globally without regard for anyone’s past political positions, party affiliation, or beliefs.
While releasing Potts’ letter to media, chairman of AICC data analytics wing Praveen Chakravarty said, “The Indian National Congress notes the response from Facebook Inc and their wish to be non-partisan and non-interfering in India’s affairs. The Congress party will await further concrete action from the global leadership of Facebook and demonstration of specific corrective measures being undertaken in Facebook & WhatsApp India”.
He added, “ He, however, reiterated that the media revelations on alleged Facebook bias in India “were based on solid documentary evidence of internal communication and are hence incontrovertible”.