NEW DELHI, India – More than 40 human rights groups and internet watchdogs, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Muslim Advocates, call on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to suspend Policy Director Ankhi Das company reports for India, South and Central Asia, according to the Wall Street Journal revealed that it has decided not to apply the social network’s hate speech policies to politicians of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party who have published anti-Muslim hate speech.
In one open letter, groups based in the US, UK and New Zealand demanded that Das be put on leave pending an audit from Facebook India, and “should be removed” if the audit corroborated the reports from Journal. They also called on Facebook to work with civil society groups and human rights activists in India.
“It is high time that Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook took anti-Muslim hatred seriously and changed the way its policies are implemented in Asia and around the world,” Heidi Beirich, executive vice president for strategy at Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, one of the signatories of the letter, said in a statement. “The scandal in the Indian office, where anti-Muslims and other forms of hatred have been allowed to stay online due to religious and political prejudice, is appalling and the leaders of this office are complicit.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
One of Facebook’s most powerful executives, Das came under scrutiny after the Wall Street Journal showed she stepped in to protect T. Raja Singh, a BJP-level politician. State, and at least three other Hindu nationalists, of Facebook’s hate speech rules. it would be bad for business. Her too claims that the company ‘lit a fire’ on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social media campaign before winning the 2014 election.
Last month Das excuse to Facebook employees for sharing a post on his personal Facebook page which called Muslims in India a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing but the purity of religion and the implementation of Sharia law matters “.
The reports have sparked political controversy in India, Facebook’s largest marketplace, which has more than 300 million users. Last week, more than a dozen members of a parliamentary committee wire rack Ajit Mohan, the top Facebook executive in India, on his content moderation policies. A separate government panel is also investigate if hate speech on facebook started riots in New Delhi earlier this year, where more than 50 people – mostly Muslims – were killed.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has come under scrutiny for not removing content that incites violence. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook failed to shut down an event created by the Kenosha Guard, a self-proclaimed militia, where members discussed plans to “kill looters and rioters” despite being reported 455 times. The page asked subscribers to bring weapons to an event intended to counter-protest the police shooting on Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A 17 year old at the demonstration would have been shot and killed two demonstrators.
In Myanmar, Facebook was used to spread anti-Muslim hate speech, including calls for violence against the Rohingya minority community. In 2018, Facebook recognized that it was used to “foment division and incite offline violence” in Myanmar after the country’s soldiers massacred thousands of Rohingya and forced more than 800,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. The United Nations described it is genocide.
“The moderation bias in Facebook’s Delhi office affects many South Asian markets, including hundreds of millions of users in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh,” said Dia Kayyali, head of technology and advocacy program at Witness, a Brooklyn-based human right. nonprofit organization and one of the signatories of the letter, told BuzzFeed News.
Kayyali said that although human rights organizations in India and South Asia weighed in on the letter, concerns over negative reactions from the increasingly authoritarian government of India prevented them from releasing the letter. sign. “Given the declining rights situation in the region, many organizations did not feel safe engaging in public advocacy at this time, especially given the existence of early signs of genocide.” , they said.
“I don’t know what Facebook’s damn problem is with anti-Muslim hatred,” said Beirich, who said he raised the topic on several occasions with Facebook executives, including the company’s CEO, Sheryl Sandberg. “But I would just say at this point that they don’t seem to care. The needle does not move.