Facebook is under scrutiny in India from its employees over how political content is regulated in the country.
The social network’s top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, reportedly opposed applying the company’s hate-speech rules to a politician from India’s prime minister Narendra Modi’s party who had in posts labelled Muslims as traitors, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why is this important?
- Das told staff that applying hate-speech rules to politicians close to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country."
- Facebook India head Ajit Mohan defended Das and the company’s policies in an internal community post, seen by Reuters.
- Mohan said the WSJ “article does not reflect the person I know or the extraordinarily complex issues we face everyday that benefits from Ankhi and the Public Policy team’s expertise.” He also said the company is “confident that the article’s claim that political affiliations influence decision making in India is inaccurate and without merit.”
- An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees, seen by Reuters, demands company leaders acknowledge and denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” and ensure more policy consistency.
- The letter also demanded that Facebook’s “policy team in India (and elsewhere) includes diverse representation.”
- “It is hard not to feel frustrated and saddened by the incidents reported ... We know we’re not alone in this. Employees across the company are expressing a similar sentiment,” said the letter. “The Muslim community at Facebook would like to hear from Facebook leadership on our asks.”
- India's main opposition Congress has called for a parliamentary panel to investigate alleged links between Facebook's India team and the country's ruling party.
- Facebook recently invested US$5.7 billion in Reliance Jio, with the aim of serving tens of millions of small shops across India. Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp, counts India as its biggest market with 400 million users.
- Facebook recently faced a global boycott from big brands like Unilever, P&G and Starbucks for its handling and policing of hate speech and misinformation.