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Congress writes to Facebook CEO on 'bias'

Congress general secretary K.C. Venugopal. File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The Congress on Tuesday made an official complaint to Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the social media company's ‘bias’ and asked for a “thorough and impartial investigation and inquiry into the Facebook India operations and practices”.

Also read: Facebook’s 'inaction' related to India business interests, alleges Congress

Separately, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “We cannot allow any manipulation of our hard-earned democracy through bias, fake news & hate speech. As exposed by @WSJ, Facebook’s involvement in peddling fake and hate news needs to be questioned by all Indians”.

Also read: Government panel set to summon Facebook officials

Party general secretary (organization) K.C. Venugopal wrote to Mr. Zuckerberg on behalf of the party and cited The Wall Street Journal's report, which claimed that Facebook India officials provided the ruling BJP with “favorable treatment on election-related issues”.

Mr. Venugopal asked FB to “publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 that were allowed on the platform”.

Also read: Govt. dismisses Congress demand for JPC probe into Facebook issue

Big market

He said:

“As you are well aware, India is one of the biggest markets in terms of users for Facebook and Whatsapp. Therefore, the expectations of social and moral responsibility of Facebook are even higher in nations such as ours.

"The starting point for a remedial action is a thorough and impartial investigation and inquiry into the Facebook India operations and practices....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.

“Until the completion of the internal investigation and submission of the report, please consider to lead Facebook India operations by a new team so as to not influence the investigation”.

Also read: Congress demands JPC probe into Facebook ‘interference’ in elections

‘Willing participant’

The company, Mr. Venugopal stated, may be a “willing participant” in interfering with India’s electoral process and asserted that the issue of bias was raised by them as well as other Opposition parties in different fora, including Parliament.

"Separately, the Congress party has also demanded Parliamentary Committee Probe in India to be initiated to probe this very serious issue of Facebook’s interference in the world's largest electoral democracy. We must also point out that the Congress party is joined by other leading political parties in expressing this apprehension and fear over Facebook’s purported role in manipulating India's electoral democracy”, he stated.

“No wonder that the BJP is running shy of parliamentary scrutiny and none other than Ravi Shankar Prasad [Information Technology Minister] himself comes to the rescue of Facebook,” he said.

CPI general secretary D. Raja said, “It’s time that Parliament discussed this issue and evolved a mechanism to lay down norm for social media platforms, be it Faceboook, Whatsapp, Twitter or something else.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 2:14:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/congress-writes-to-facebook-ceo-over-alleged-bias/article32383216.ece

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