Facebook reduced itself to 'Fakebook', says Congress

Facebook reduced itself to 'Fakebook', need JPC probe on its role: Congress

The demand for probe came as fresh revelations by whistle-blower Frances Haugen claimed that Facebook struggles to curb hate speech in India

Congress Flag. Credit: Getty Images

Congress on Monday demanded a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) against Facebook for its suspected role in "influencing" Indian elections, "undermining" democracy in the country trying to "shape" opinion through "fake" posts, as it accused the social media giant of reducing itself into "Fakebook".

The demand came as fresh revelations by whistle-blower Frances Haugen claimed that Facebook struggles to curb hate speech in India with internal documents showing that bots and fake accounts allegedly linked to the ruling BJP spread information that were "fake/inauthentic" but were not taken down.

Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera alleged that BJP sympathisers have "infiltrated" in Facebook and the social media giant is acting like an "ally", which is pushing the ruling party's ideology

He said that Facebook's "tryst with bias" favouring the BJP is "nothing new" and one remembers the incident involving Ankhi Das, who was questioned by a Parliamentary panel on alleged bias in dealing with hate speeches, including her own internal postings detailing her "explicit support" for the ruling BJP. "But, despite her resignation, the camaraderie and nexus between the BJP – Facebook never ended," he said.

Also read: Internal Facebook documents show struggle with misinformation, hate speech in India: Report

Khera said that Facebook's safety team had in 2020 reported that Bajrang Dal supported violence against minorities across the country but when it came to designating them as a "dangerous organisation" and ban them from the platform, the social media giant's security team took a different stand, saying it could be a business risk as it may make the BJP angry. 

Why hasn't Facebook designated the Bajrang Dal as 'dangerous organisations' based on its own internal reports? he said.

"We demand a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the role of Facebook in influencing the elections, undermining our democracy and trying to shape the opinion of people through fake posts. Facebook has reduced itself to Fakebook in this country," Khera told a press conference.

Training guns at the Narendra Modi government, Khera said the government had been "extremely pro-active" against Twitter citing social media rules but the question is why are they not uttering a word now.

"The internal reports and recommendations of Facebook’s security team went against the recommendations of Facebook’s safety team insofar as they prioritised commercial interests over safety of Indian citizens, and yet no action has been taken by the Government, doesn’t this clearly implicate the presence of a quid pro quo?" he said adding that is why there is a need for a JPC probe.

He said the latest expose showed that Facebook was not equipped to filter hate speech especially in Hindi and Bengali and despite knowing it, it did not take any action.
"An internal assessment by Facebook suggested that only 0.2% of reported hate speech was being taken down, which shows that Facebook was and continues to be having damningly acute awareness about content against a particular section of Indian society and has consciously chosen not to act against it. This only goes on to prove that Fakebook is nothing but a subjugated vicious diabolical tool used by the ruling regime and its proxies to propagate bigotry, hate and fear in the minds of the oppressed and marginalized in India," he said. 

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