Government panel set to summon Facebook officials

Committee receives complaints of ‘intentional inaction’ against hateful content

Updated - August 18, 2020 03:35 am IST

Published - August 18, 2020 03:32 am IST - New Delhi

Raghav Chadha

Raghav Chadha

The Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee on Monday said it has received multiple complaints against Facebook officials for “deliberate and intentional inaction” to contain hateful content in India for vested reasons.

The panel, chaired by AAP MLA Raghav Chadha, has decided to take “immediate cognisance” of the issue. The panel said it has set its mechanism in motion.

Summons to be sent

Summons are set to be sent for the appearance of Facebook officials, including Ankhi Das, who has filed a police complaint alleging that she received threats in connection with the matter.

The panel is scheduled to hold its first meeting related to the matter this week.

The committee is meant to facilitate the State’s endeavour to “maintain and promote an irenic atmosphere in the city” as well as establish a “conducive milieu of concordance, peace and pacification amongst different communities” residing in the Capital.

“The committee has received multiple complaints addressed to its chairman Raghav Chadha, underscoring the alleged instances of intentional and deliberate inaction on the part of social media platform — Facebook — to enforce its policies against inflammatory and hateful contents and alleged larger conspiracy involving said social media platform, with respect to the scathing revelations made by the news report published by The Wall Street Journal on 14.08.2020, an online news platform based in the United States of America,” the committee stated.

It also stated that a leader of the BJP had been mentioned in the article as “another hatemonger spared” by Facebook.

‘ Officials turn blind eye’

“The officials of Facebook have been alleged to turn a blind eye to hate speech and communal hatred mongers. In view thereof it compels the committee to take immediate notice and get to the root of this issue with a view to painstakingly discern if there is any role or complicity of Facebook official in the orchestration of Delhi riots,” it stated.

According to the committee, the complaints had alleged that Facebook, despite its comprehensive policies and regulations on curbing unabated dissemination of hateful and offensive content in place, had been turning a blind eye to “mass manufacturing and propagation of vile, hateful communal content” not only in bad taste but with potential to “erupt violence and riot-like situation”.

The committee, after vetting the complaints, it stated, was of the prima facie view that the allegations against the Facebook officials concerned were “extremely serious in nature“ which if unchecked and unhindered “may lead to serious adverse fallouts”.

“The committee aims at redressing the issue at the earliest, therefore, the proceedings shall be expedited in order to put this issue to its logical conclusion,” it stated.

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