Twenty days after The Wall Street Journal carried a story which kicked up a storm in the political circles in India, Facebook on Thursday banned lone Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Telangana Raja Singh from its platform and Instagram for violating its policy on content promoting violence and hate.
According to an e-mail statement issued by a spokesperson of the social media giant: “We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform.”
The latest action followed a report carried by The Wall Street Journal on August 14 which said Facebook’s top Public Policy Director for India, South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das, cited government-business relations to not apply hate-speech rules to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP, ignoring the fact that they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence.”
The WSJ report cited “current and former” Facebook employees as saying that the top executive’s intervention is part of a “broader pattern of favouritism” by the company towards the ruling party.
The Wall Street Journal report also said that internal Facebook staff concluded that the legislator should be banned from the platform under a policy called “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”.
After this report appeared in WSJ, the BJP and Congress have been accusing each other over the Facebook alleged bias. A Parliamentary panel also summoned Facebook representatives in India to discuss the issue of alleged misuse of the social media platform on Wednesday. It needs to be mentioned that Information Technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday wrote to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the social media platform’s employees of supporting people from a political predisposition that lost successive elections, and “abusing” the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers. He was obviously referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had strongly raised this issue.
Many social media watchers are of the view that the social media giant has tried to save its face by taking action against the MLA.