This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.

Facebook’s ‘BJP Bias’: Shashi Tharoor-Led Panel To Write To Social Media Firm Today

A report in ‘The Wall Street Journal’ which alleged that Facebook India deliberately didn’t take action on hate speech by BJP leaders has set off a political controversy.
A file photo of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
The India Today Group via Getty Images
A file photo of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.

A parliamentary panel led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor may summon executives from Facebook over a news report that said the social media company issued favourable treatment to BJP leaders ahead of the 2019 general election in which the party received a thumping majority.

The Indian Express reported, citing sources, that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology secretariat would write to Facebook as early as Monday, and may summon its executives as well.

The WSJ report, by Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz, said that Ankhi Das, Facebook’s public policy director for India, South and Central Asia, told employees that punishing hate speech by BJP politicians would damage the company’s “business prospects” in India.

The leaders cited in the report include Telangana MLA T. Raja Singh and MP and former Union minister Anantkumar Hegde.

Tharoor had tweeted on Sunday that the panel “would certainly wish to hear from Facebook” about these reports. The Thiruvananthapuram MP was responding to a tweet from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that alleged that the BJP and RSS “control Facebook & Whatsapp” in India.

The report set off a slugfest among political circles, with IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad—uncharitably, for a Union minister—calling Gandhi a loser who could not “influence people even in their own party”.

The Congress has been calling for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the allegations, including that Das intervened to prevent Facebook from announcing it took down fake news related to the BJP, when it did so for the Congress days before voting began for the election.

The Indian Express report, however, indicated that everyone in the Congress wasn’t happy with the demand for a JPC probe, considering its own MP heads the IT panel. In the case of a JPC, the BJP can appoint the chairperson.

Suggest a correction
This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact indiasupport@huffpost.com.