54 ex-bureaucrats write to Zuckerberg against the ‘calculus of hate’

A group of 54 former bureaucrats have written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to perform a serious audit of the implementation of the social media company’s hate-speech policy in India

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A group of 54 former bureaucrats have written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to perform a serious audit of the implementation of the social media company’s hate-speech policy in India. The controversy was spotlighted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month in a report that said Facebook India intervened in content moderation processes to ensure hate speeches by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader were not taken down.Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi have also demanded an enquiry in the whole issue.

After the Wall Street Journal highlighted the controversial issue of bias and unfair treatment of content by Facebook in India, now 54 ex bureaucrats have demanded probe into the matter.

A group of 54 former bureaucrats have written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to perform a serious audit of the implementation of the social media company’s hate-speech policy in India.The ex public servants have specifically demanded an enquiry in a manner that Facebook's India policy head, Ankhi Das, is not in a position to influence investigations.“We are writing to you in the expectation that you will make serious efforts to audit the implementation of Facebook’s hate speech policy in India and, while such an audit is underway, ensure that the present Public Policy Head of Facebook, India, is not in a position to influence the investigations,” the former All India Service Officers said in a statement on Monday.The controversy was spotlighted by the Wall Street Journal earlier this month in a report that said Facebook India intervened in content moderation processes to ensure hate speeches by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader were not taken down – a claim the company has since denied.Congress leaders including Rahul Gandhi have also demanded an enquiry in the whole issue, Congress called it a BJP-Facebook Nexus while Rahul Gandhi urged people of India to question Facebook for this discrimination. The 54 former officers include ex-Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers Salahuddin Ahmad, Wahajat Habibullah and Harsh Mander, and former Indian Police Service (IPS) officers Shafi Alam, Vappala Balachandran and K Saleem Ali.The letter said Facebook had “failed to implement its own policy of discouraging hate speech in India, or has implemented it in a clearly partisan manner.”The former officers also highlighted the fact that posts on Facebook have often to led to hate crime in India, including lynchings and torture, primarily of Muslims and oppressed castes.“That this (not censoring hate speech by members of the BJP) seems to have been done to protect Facebook’s commercial interests is even more reprehensible… We note that such behaviour on Facebook’s part has become a subject of debate in other countries as well.

Commercial interests at the cost of human lives? If these are the crass calculations Facebook indulges in, it is no surprise that the calculus of hate is spreading like a virus in many parts of the world,” the letter said.On the initiative of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor officials from Facebook have been summoned to answer a parliamentary panel over allegations that the social media company acted in a politically partisan manner to benefit the BJP. Facebook has been asked to appear in front of the panel on September 2

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Published: 26 Aug 2020, 11:45 AM
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