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New Delhi (Sputnik): India’s main opposition party, Congress, has upped the ante on the controversy over a media report suggesting Facebook has not applied hate speech rules in order to favour the governing Bharatiya Janata Party at the behest of some of its senior executives. The party has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the issue.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has attacked the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government on Wednesday, saying 20 million people have lost their jobs.
Referring to the controversy around the social media platform Facebook’s alleged interference in India’s electoral democracy, former Congress chief and parliamentarian Gandhi said that spreading hatred on Facebook cannot hide the truth of economic disasters.
By saying this, Rahul Gandhi implied that making provocative speeches cannot help the government deflect public attention from the country’s major issues like job losses and a slowing economy.
The Indian economy has deteriorated consistently from high growth of over 8 percent in early 2018. India’s GDP growth went down to 3.1 percent in January – March 2020, according to government data.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Gandhi said: “In the last four months, almost 20 million people have lost their jobs. Future of two crore families is in dark. Spreading fake news and hatred on Facebook cannot hide the devastating realities of unemployment and economy”.
पिछले 4 महीनों में क़रीब 2 करोड़ लोगों ने नौकरियाँ गँवायी हैं। 2 करोड़ परिवारों का भविष्य अंधकार में है।
फेसबुक पर झूठी खबरें और नफ़रत फैलाने से बेरोज़गारी और अर्थव्यवस्था के सर्वनाश का सत्य देश से नहीं छुप सकता। pic.twitter.com/xXagwu5Ytx
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 19, 2020
The Congress Party has been up in arms against the governing BJP ever since media reports suggested that the top Facebook India management had favoured the party by not taking down alleged hate speech delivered by members of the BJP.
Media report last week pointed out that the hate speech rules were not applied to individuals and groups related to the federally governing BJP.
On Tuesday, Gandhi also tweeted on the issue:
We cannot allow any manipulation of our hard-earned democracy through bias, fake news & hate speech.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 18, 2020
Along with the tweet, Gandhi also shared a screenshot of the letter written by the party to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in which the party demanded a probe into the India operations.
In the letter signed by Congress’ general secretary in charge of organisation, K.C. Venugopal, the party demanded that the social media platform make public “all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 that were allowed on the platform”.
“Set up a high-level inquiry by Facebook Headquarters into the Facebook India leadership team and their operations and submit a report to the board of Facebook Inc. within a reasonable period of time such as one/two months. This report should also be made public”, the letter added.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started in India in March this year, the Congress Party has been raising concerns on job losses and the economic front.
According to Facebook, the company enforces its hate speech policy irrespective of anyone’s political position or party affiliation.
“We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation. While we know there is more to do, we’re making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy”, a Facebook spokesperson said on 17 August.