The article written by Billy Perrigo highlighted the failure of Facebook and WhatsApp to take action on the hate speeches even after being flagged by the activists
NEW DELHI – After the Wall Street Journal expose about Facebook’s bias towards the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), American weekly news magazine Time has revealed that the social media giant is reluctant to police the members and supporters of the BJP as top officials of Facebook India and WhatsApp India have links with the ruling party.
“Activists, who have spent years monitoring and reporting hate speech by Hindu nationalists, tell Time that they believe Facebook has been reluctant to police posts by members and supporters of the BJP because it doesn’t want to pick fights with the government that controls its largest market. The way the company is structured exacerbates the problem, analysts and former employees say, because the same people responsible for managing the relationship with the government also contribute to decisions on whether politicians should be punished for hate speech,” noted an article published in the international publication.
The article, titled “Facebook’s Ties to India’s Ruling Party Complicate Its Fight Against Hate Speech” and written by Billy Perrigo, highlighted the failure of Facebook and WhatsApp to take action on the hate speeches even after being flagged by the activists. The report also brought out the links of Facebook and Whats App’s top officials with the ruling party.
The article talked about Shivnath Thukral, who was earlier Facebook’s public policy director for India and South Asia. Now, he has been promoted from Facebook to WhatsApp’s public policy director. Before being hired by Facebook in 2017, he worked for the BJP’s social media campaign in 2013.
“Before joining Facebook, Thukral had worked in the past on behalf of the BJP. Despite this, he was involved in making decisions about how to deal with politicians’ posts that moderators flagged as violations of hate speech rules during the 2019 elections, the former employees tell Time. His Facebook likes include a page called “I Support Narendra Modi”,” noted the article about Thukral.
— Shivnath Thukral (@shivithukral) July 5, 2017
Former Facebook employees believe that Thukral was hired by Facebook because of his proximity with the ruling party. “Thukral worked with senior party officials to help run a pro-BJP website and a Facebook page”.
Facebook acknowledged that Thukral has worked for pro-BJP websites like (Mera Bharosa which was later tuned as Modi Bharosa during the 2014 Lok Sabha election campaign). However, it has denied that there has been a conflict of interest due to his past works.
Thukral has been shifted from Facebook to WhatsApp because the social media platform is aiming at turning the messaging app into a digital payment processor WhatsApp Pay which is “a lucrative idea potentially worth billions of dollars”. This project, in partnership with Mukesh Ambani’s Jio, will require approval from the national payment regulator.
These revelations made by Time are in line with Wall Street Journal’s expose which had revealed that Facebook’s current public policy director Ankhi Das resisted to apply the hate speech rules against the leaders of the BJP because they don’t want to antagonise the ruling party.
Time’s article also revealed that Facebook did not remove the hateful post uploaded by Assam’s BJP MLA Shiladitya Dev against Muslims even after being flagged by a watchdog group Avaaz. It was removed after one year when Time asked Facebook officials about the controversial post.