Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a sharp letter to the Facebook founder, alleged that employees of the social media giant “are on record abusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior cabinet ministers” while still working in Facebook India and managing important positions.
In the middle of a huge controversy over reports alleging that a Facebook executive was biased towards members of the ruling BJP and did not act on incendiary posts, the government has written to Mark Zuckerberg alleging quite the opposite.
There have been “multiple instances recently where Facebook has been used by anarchic and radical elements whose sole aim is to destroy social order, recruit people and assemble them for violence. However, we are yet to see any meaningful action against such elements. Is this action also held back by the same vested interest groups who have an incentive in stoking political violence and instability in India?” Prasad wrote.
The IT Minister wrote he had been told that in the run-up to the 2019 election, “there was a concerted effort by the Facebook India management to not just delete pages or substantially reduce their reach but also offer no recourse or right of appeal to affected people who are supportive of the right-of-centre ideology”.
Without naming the Congress, he added that “people from this political predisposition have been overwhelmingly defeated in successive free and fair elections. Having lost all democratic processes by dominating the decision-making apparatus of important social media platforms. Facebook is the latest tool in their arsenal to stoke internal divisions and social disturbances.”
The minister’s allegations have added to the raging political row over US media articles suggesting Facebook’s bias while dealing with posts from members of the BJP and the rightwing. A report published in a newspaper said the social networking site did not apply hate speech rules on members of the ruling party. In a second report, the newspaper alleged that Ankhi Das, head of public policy in Facebook India, “made internal postings over several years” detailing the paper’s support for the ruling BJP and disparaging its main rival Congress.