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Our policies on hate speech uniformly applied: Facebook

Ajit Mohan   | Photo Credit: Reuters

Following allegation of bias in implementing the company’s own guidelines on hate speech in India, Facebook India Vice-President and Managing Director Ajit Mohan on Friday said the social network platform is “non-partisan” and denounces hate and bigotry in any form.

The statement comes almost a week after a report published by the Wall Street Journal alleged that the company violated its own rules for hate-speech in favour of some individuals, including those associated with the ruling BJP, after opposition from Ankhi Das, the head of public policy at Facebook India.

The report stated that Ms. Das had reasoned that punishing violations by politicians from the ruling party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Mr Mohan, in a post, said over the last few days, Facebook has been accused of bias in the way it enforces its policies.

“We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” he said.

He added that Facebook is and always has been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

‘Impartial approach’

Stating that many questions have been raised specifically about enforcement of the company’s policies around hate speech, Mr Mohan said, “There is no place for hate speech on our platform. We have an impartial approach to dealing with content and are strongly governed by our Community Standards. We enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural belief.”

Mr Mohan said the platform will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India when it violates our Community Standards.

“Decisions about designating people or groups as “dangerous individuals or organizations” are different — these are based on a combination of signals and are made by our dangerous organisations team who have deep expertise in terrorism and organized hate and pay attention to global and regional trends,” he said.

Individuals who are designated as “dangerous” are removed from Facebook services altogether, and all praise, support and representation of them is taken down, as well, he added.

“Because the penalty associated with designation is so severe, it’s important that our analysis is comprehensive and detailed, and that our process applies consistently and fairly around the world,” Mr. Mohan said.

He further clarified that “In addition to the external input that informs our designation process, we also solicit input from cross-functional teams internal to the company when we’re making decisions about individual designations. These decisions cannot and are not made unilaterally by just one person; rather, they are inclusive of different views from around the company, a process that is critical to making sure we consider, understand and account for both local and global contexts. And the process is dynamic and ongoing based on newly available information or activity.”

Mr. Mohan said the company has made significant progress in removing hate speech and other harmful content over the past few years and continues to invest in efforts to combat hate speech on its services, while also adding that Facebook is open to engage with all parties — political or otherwise — who want to understand its content policies and enforcement.

“Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering...Our aim is to be an ally for India where our platforms preserve the pluralistic character of a democracy by offering the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things while also protecting society from broader harm,” he said.

Stressing that Facebook follows a transparent policy in developing its policies, the India head said the company does not develop these policies alone and rely on the expertise of both internal teams and external voices, including its community, experts and organizations outside of Facebook such as academics, safety and human rights NGOs, and activists

“These policies are ever evolving to take into account the local sensitivities especially in a multicultural society such as India. An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” he said.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:34:15 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/our-policies-on-hate-speech-uniformly-applied-facebook/article32416921.ece

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