The action comes two days after IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote a letter to the chief of social media giant Mark Zuckerberg that the company was biased against right-wing content
NEW DELHI—Facebook banned the controversial Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician from Telangana T Raja Singh for violating company’s policy against violence and hate, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Raja had posted anti-Muslim hate content on his Facebook account. He had made some objectionable remarks against Muslims while referring to Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees in India. But he was let go despite recommendations by internal safety staff.
According to the Journal expose published on August 15, Facebook India executive Ankhi Das advised against applying rules on hate speech citing chances of loss of business in India as Raja belonged to the ruling party. She has been accused of openly supporting the BJP. Moreover, she has been slammed for sharing anti-Muslim posts though she is said to have apologised to her staff.
The Journal article sparked a political storm as opposition parties accused Facebook of favouring the ruling party whose Muslim-bashing is considered detrimental to India’s democracy. They have been demanding from Facebook a neutral and transparent policy.
Now under pressure Facebook has finally banned Singh from using the platform.
The report quoted a Facebook spokesperson as saying: “We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform. The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to this decision.”
But one of the authors of the report said this action of Facebook is an “about-face” which could prove “politically tricky” for the company in India.
New: Facebook has banned a politician from India’s ruling party for violating hate speech rules, amid growing political storm over extremist content. Removal of BJP’s T. Raja Singh is about-face for the company and one that will be politically tricky. https://t.co/76cB0HSsHp
— Newley Purnell (@newley) September 3, 2020
NDTV reported that Facebook said Raja has been banned from Instagram as well. “The company will also remove Pages, Groups and accounts set up to represent him. However, it will continue to allow wider discussion of him, including praise and support.”
Interestingly, Raja disowned hateful posts as he said his official Facebook account was “hacked and blocked in 2018”.
The action comes two days after IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote a letter to the chief of social media giant Mark Zuckerberg that the company was biased against right-wing content.
On Wednesday, the parliamentary panel on IT grilled the MD of Facebook India for over two hours in a closed-door meeting.
Recent reports have suggested that Facebook allowed BJP to bypass rules on advertising during the 2019 general elections.