Facebook ignored hate speech policy to allow anti-Muslim posts on its platform to avoid ruining its relationship with India’s governing party, a Wall Street Journal report has said.
The report published on Friday claimed top Facebook executive in India refused to apply the company’s hate speech rules to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians and other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”.
“The company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to [T Raja] Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence,” it said, according to current and former Facebook employees.
Singh, the BJP’s only legislator in the southern state of Telangana, is known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
The right-wing politician had demanded mainly-Muslim Rohingya refugees be shot, called India’s Muslims traitors and threatened to demolish mosques in his Facebook posts and public speeches, according to WSJ.
In March this year, Facebook employees responsible for policing the platform found Singh had violated their hate speech rules and suggested banning his account.
But Das refused to act against Singh, who has tens of thousands of followers on Facebook and the company-owned Instagram, it added.
“Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects,” the report said.
The report also mentioned at least two other BJP leaders.
A video of former BJP legislator Kapil Mishra had emerged in which he could be seen warning the police in capital New Delhi to clear protesters demonstrating against a controversial citizenship law passed by the Indian parliament last December.
Within hours of Mishra’s video going viral on social media, religious violence erupted in New Delhi, in which 53 people, most of them Muslims, were killed.
In another incident, BJP parliamentarian, Anantkumar Hegde in a Facebook post had alleged that Muslims were spreading coronavirus in the country as part of a conspiracy called “Corona Jihad”.
In March, as the virus began to spread across India, right wing media networks and BJP accused Muslim missionary movement called Tablighi Jamaat of spreading COVID-19. Dozens of Jamaat leaders were arrested.