A committee of the Delhi assembly today said it would summon officials of Facebook, especially its senior executive Ankhi Das, over the social media giant's alleged stance towards hate speeches and divisive content posted by BJP leaders and right-wing members. A controversy has been on since Sunday after the US publication Wall Street Journal alleged that Facebook deliberately ignored the posts. The Congress, which has been trading barbs with the BJP since, has demanded an inquiry by a Joint Parliamentary Committee.
A statement from the Delhi assembly today said its committee on "Peace and Harmony" will examine the issue.
"Summons are set to be sent for appearance of the concerned officials of Facebook and more importantly, Ms. Ankhi Das, in due course to ensure their presence before the committee for participating in the relevant proceedings and the committee shall convene its meeting this week to initiate the proceedings forthwith," the statement read.
Ankhi Das, who the WSJ article said took the call of ignoring hate speech by BJP leaders, was trolled online all day. The Journal reported that she had said that punishing violations by BJP workers "would damage the company's business prospects in the country".
Quoting current and former employees, the article said Facebook has a "broader pattern of favouritism" towards the BJP. The Indian executives, the article said, had even allowed objectionable content despite the issue being flagged by company chief Mark Zuckerberg, to remain on the site.
Ms Das filed a complaint with the police today, alleging that she has received death threats.
In her complaint, naming five persons, she said, "Since the evening of 14 August 2020, I have been receiving violent threats to my life and body, and I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me by the accused persons. The content, which even includes my photograph is evidently threatening to my life and body and I fear for my safety as well as that of my family members".
Facebook today said it prohibits "hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone's political position or party affiliation".
The social media giant, which counts India among its largest markets globally, however, added, "We know there is more to do:. The company said it is "making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy".
The Congress, which has taken the report as evidence of the BJP's alleged manipulation of social media, today sharpened its demand for a joint parliamentary probe.
At a press conference, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said Facebook has removed pages and issued press releases across the world including the US and Turkey, citing "coordinated inauthentic behaviour", but the rules for India are "dramatically different and are bent as per their convenience".
Yesterday, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, has said the panel would like to hear from Facebook about the report.