Regulation of political content | Facebook employees internally question policy

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Facebook and its top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, are facing questions internally from employees over how political content is regulated in its biggest market, according to sources with direct knowledge and internal posts seen by Reuters.

The world’s largest social network is battling a public-relations and political crisis in India after The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that Ms. Das opposed applying the company’s hate-speech rules to a politician from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, who had in posts called Muslims traitors.

In the United States and around the world, Facebook employees are raising questions about whether adequate procedures and content regulation practices were being followed by the India team, sources familiar with discussions told Reuters.

An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees on one internal platform, and 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 similar sentiment,” said the letter. “The Muslim community at Facebook would like to hear from Facebook leadership on our asks.”

Facebook and Ms. Das did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The WSJ article said Ms. Das had told staff that applying hate-speech rules to politicians close to Mr. Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

One of the sources said Facebook’s India leadership will have to answer tough questions on what really happened: “There will be scrutiny on what really went down.”

A second source familiar with the reactions said Facebook employees were discussing whether there should be strict separation between government relations and content policy teams, and there is “an internal debate happening about the (content moderation) processes”. After the article, Facebook India head Ajit Mohan defended Ms. Das in an internal community post, also seen by Reuters.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 5:12:10 AM |

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