A general view, cutting across party lines, also emerged in the meeting that there was a need to make changes in laws to regulate some aspects of the social media platforms.
It is learnt that Facebook’s India MD Ajit Mohan informed the panel that the company uses the services of International Fact-Checkers Network (IFCN) to handle issues relating to content posted on the site. This led BJP members to ask if Facebook checks whether the fact-checkers are non-partisan. They also alleged that external assessors are acting as “gate keepers” to prevent right-leaning people from coming into IFCN.
The ruling party members gave a list of anti-BJP Facebook employees engaged in fact-checking -- an external assessor, a member in FB’s public policy team who worked with Congress’ Ahmed Patel, another employee who worked with Congress’ Naveen Jindal, a former principal policy associate of Trinamool MP Derek O’Brien and five others who were close to Congress.
Some members questioned Mohan on an article he had written for Wall Street Journal a decade ago to which he clarified that his understanding of the Indian political system then was not deep and he no longer holds the views expressed in that piece. Sources said BJP members also asked if he could name a single employee who was associated with the ruling party earlier.
When some Congress members referred to Ankhi Das, Facebook’s India and South Asia head of public policy who had reportedly suggested that the site should not act against BJP’s Telangana MLA T Raja Singh in a hate-speech case, BJP members said "she is the daughter-in-law of a Trinamool lawmaker from West Bengal".
Trinamool members in the panel accepted that Das has met West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee along with her father-in-law. However, BJP members downplayed the issue of Ankhi’s twin sister being a member of party’s student wing ABVP.
Meanwhile, Facebook banned Raja Singh from its site on Thursday, hours after the standing committee meeting that posed several questions to Mohan and his team.
BJP members also posed a question on FB allowing groups like Shias on its site to which its representatives maintained that people from other religious persuasions are also free to form such groups on the site.
Sources said a total of around 150 questions have been given to Facebook by members of different parties in the committee meeting. FB has been directed to respond in a fortnight. The FB team answered only around 25 questions during the two hour, 15 minute deposition.
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1 Comment on this Story
SkyWalker 145 days ago
Things get real rotten when BJP enters anywhere