This Article is From Aug 16, 2020

"Losers": Union Minister's Comeback After Rahul Gandhi's Facebook Charge

Rahul Gandhi shared a report about how Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, looks the other way in cases of hate speech and objectionable material from leaders and workers of the ruling BJP.

Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed allegations made by Rahul Gandhi on the BJP's control over Facebook.

New Delhi:

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Sunday tagged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi as "losers who cannot influence people even in their own party" after the parliamentarian shared a US media report, accusing the ruling BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of influencing policies of social media giant Facebook.

"Losers who cannot influence people even in their own party keep cribbing that the entire world is controlled by BJP & RSS. You were caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica & Facebook to weaponise data before the elections & now have the gall to question us?" the minister said.

In a second tweet he added:

The minister's response came after Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP and RSS of controlling Facebook and WhatsApp in India, saying, "They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate. Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook."

Mr Gandhi shared a story published by the Wall Street Journal newspaper, that reported how Facebook and the company-owned WhatsApp and Instagram, look the other way in cases of hate speech and objectionable material from leaders and workers of the ruling BJP.

The article, titled, "Facebook Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics - Company executive opposed move to ban controversial politician," the US newspaper also reported that an executive of the social media giant had said 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.

Soon after the tweet of Mr Gandhi - who has been launching a tweet-a-day attack on the government - the party's senior leader Shashi Tharoor flagged the issue.

"The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology would certainly wish to hear from @Facebook about these reports & what they propose to do about hate-speech in India," his tweet read.

Ravi Shankar Prasad's mention of Cambridge Analytica was a reference to the two-year-old revelation that the UK-based firm at the heart of a massive worldwide data breach had pitched a proposal in 2017 to the Congress party, which included "data mining of Facebook posts and tweets" and "influencing voter intention" for the 2019 national election.

The proposal for the Rs 2.5 crore contract was not signed finally, the Congress had said, and the government has not pursued any legal action against the Congress or the company yet.