The Indian National Congress demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into Facebook, following the latest report in a ‘credible international media’ exposing Facebook India’s alleged bias for the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party. The party intensified its attack on the social media platform seeking a suspension of all pending licenses and approvals, pending an investigation.
The principal opposition party in India has been raising questions on Facebook India’s policy towards hate speech alleging that the social networking giant has close ties with the BJP and has turned a blind eye to hate posts flaring up communal disharmony in India.
“We demand a criminal investigation into the affairs of Facebook and the people named (in media reports). All pending approvals and licenses for both Facebook and WhatsApp should be put on hold until the investigations are completed,” said Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Leader of the Congress party in Lok Sabha in a press conference today. “This is the tip of the iceberg, Facebook India executives and their top bosses in the US are hand in glove,” said Chowdhury.
The Congress party went on to say that Facebook India’s leadership team should be suspended with immediate effect. This is in reaction to the latest report filed by The Wall Street Journal which documents Facebook India’s public policy head Ankhi Das as being pro-BJP in her political stand.
The Congress has said that the latest expose by WSJ shows ‘Facebook’s interference and assault on India’s electoral democracy which is a crying shame and a criminal offence.’
“Skeletons from Facebook India’s cupboard are tumbling out faster than our monsoon rains. In a span of just two weeks, three separate articles in credible international media publications have revealed how Facebook and WhatsApp have colluded with the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to tarnish India’s democracy and tear India’s social harmony,” the party said in a statement.
The Congress referred to instances listed in the WSJ report of how Das implied her bias to the BJP in various internal communications. The report cites an internal mail written by Facebook India’s public policy head Ankhi Das to her team, where she writes, “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.” This, allegedly referring to Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2014 general elections.
“Evidently, she was elated at his victory and the big role her company, Facebook, played in helping him win,” the Congress party said.
“Facebook & WhatsApp’s role in subverting India’s democracy is now unquestionable and beyond doubt. Their complicity in propagating hate speech and fake news to favour the BJP in elections is confirmed. What makes it worse is that Facebook’s global leadership team was well aware of the biases and partisanship of their India leadership team but were willing participants,” the Congress party said.
The Congress Party has written to Facebook twice over the last two weeks seeking an internal inquiry into the allegations that have surfaced after reports in International media. The party said it is yet to get a response from the tech giant.
When asked whether the Congress party is mulling legal action against Facebook, the party’s Data Cell head Praveen Chakravarty said, “At the moment we are highlighting these grave concerns about Facebook’s role in creating communal disharmony in India and its BJP bias which is as an assault on India’s electoral democracy. We hope that our democratic government takes these concerns seriously. We will look at all our options, including legal action if need be.”