Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched another attack over a report by a foreign publication alleging that Facebook overlooks hate speech by leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in order to protect their business prospects in India.
“We cannot allow any manipulation of our hard-earned democracy through bias, fake news & hate speech. As exposed by @WSJ, Facebook’s involvement in peddling fake and hate news needs to be questioned by all Indians,” Gandhi tweeted.
He also posted the letter his party has written to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, calling for a time-bound high-level probe into the allegations that his company’s India team overlooked hate comments by BJP leaders.
KC Venugopal, Congress’ general secretary (organisation), wrote the letter to Zuckerberg referring to the Wall Street Journal report, which alleged that Facebook’s India policy head Ankhi Das ‘provided the Bharatiya Janata Party with favourable treatment on election-related issues’.
The Congress accused Facebook India of “interfering” with the country’s electoral democracy and also demanded a probe into the conduct of Facebook India leadership team, and their operations.
The opposition is up in arms over allegations that Facebook, the social media company, has been lenient while censoring content that amounts to hate-speech by members of the BJP.
Gandhi, who has been targeting the Centre every day over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the state of the country’s economy and the standoff with China in Ladakh, on Sunday alleged that the BJP and its ideological parent the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh control Facebook and WhatsApp in India. “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,” Gandhi tweeted.
On its part, the ruling party launched a counter attack on Gandhi and the Congress, saying it had no locus standi to question the BJP, given previous allegations of the opposition party having used online platforms to influence elections in India.