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Congress demand for Parliamentary panel probe into Facebook issue

The Congress on Saturday reiterated its demand that the government to constitute a joint parliamentary committee to investigate what it called an “unholy intimacy” between Facebook’s India operations and the BJP. The Congress flagged a Time magazine story which, it said, not only confirmed a piece by The Wall Street Journal but also pointed out that WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, also had similar connections with BJP. WhatsApp, which was used by 40 crore Indians, had been “compromised and controlled indirectly” by the BJP, the Congress alleged.
K C Venugopal, the Congress general secretary (organisation), kept up the party’s attack in a letter to Zuckerberg over the issue. He referred to the report and said the social company provided the BJP with “favourable treatment on election-related issues”. This hate speech issue reaches the globe through social media.

The Congress on Tuesday wrote to Mark Zuckerberg saying Facebook may be “a willing participant in thwarting the rights and values” its founding leaders sacrificed their lives for while calling for an inquiry into a report that last week claimed that the social media company was biased towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in censoring hate speech.

As per the report, the Time piece claimed that current Public Policy director of WhatsApp Shivnath Thukral, in 2013, used to operate websites and Facebook pages for the BJP. It alleged that WhatsApp was going slow on hate speeches on its platform because it wanted to soon launch its own payment platform.

The Congress asked Zuckerberg to set up a high-level inquiry into the Facebook India leadership team and their operations. It has asked the company to make public all instances of hate speech posts since 2014 allowed on the platform. The Congress has suggested the appointment of a new team to lead the India operations till the inquiry is completed. “

“There needs to be an exhaustive and unbiased investigation by a joint parliamentary committee between the unending links of Facebook employees and the ruling establishment. The investigation must include how Facebook manipulated voter opinion, allowed hate speech, and was oblivious to fake news, even when they were in clear violation of their regulations,” Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said.

The BJP hit out at the Congress for its demand for a Facebook inquiry. “[The] Congress party, faced with electoral irrelevance, and rejection at the hustings, wants to pin blame on everyone else except its uninspiring and unworthy leadership,” said Amit Malviya, the BJP’s national Information and technology in-charge. “Facebook is just another addition to their ‘save the Gandhis’ campaign.

The Congress on Monday attacked Facebook, saying its “inaction against hate content destabilises” democracy in India, and reiterated its demand for a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the charges.

Parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi rejected Congress’s demand for the JPC probe into the matter, saying it was out of the question

The congress party demanded that WhatsApp must not be granted approvals for its payment operations until an inquiry is complete.