Facebook Does Not Profit From Hate Speech, Says India Chief Ajit Mohan

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Facebook does not take advantage of hate speech, the tech giant’s India chief said Wednesday, rejecting allegations the Silicon Valley firm failed to act on the issue over trade concerns.

India is the biggest market for the US-based company and its messaging service WhatsApp on the subject of users, and the firm is under pressure worldwide over the policing of hate speech.

Facebook has been embroiled in a enormous row in the South Asian nation after the Wall Road Publication reported in August that the company failed to take away anti-Muslim comments by a politician from the ruling party in order to give protection to its trade interests.

“It is not good for us, not for people on the platform. There’s no constituency that benefits from hate speech,” Facebook India Managing Director Ajit Mohan told The Times of India.

He added that the company used to be doing everything imaginable to “retain a wide variety of harm absent from the platform”.

The comments came a day after Mohan failed to seem before a Delhi panel probing allegations that Facebook had intentionally ignored instances of hate speech on its platform.

The firm could also be being questioned by a Indian parliamentary committee over its alleged political bias.

More than 40 rights groups worldwide have written a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg demanding that India public policy head Ankhi Das be sidelined, pending the outcome of a civil rights audit, for allegedly failing to address anti-Muslim hate speech on the platform.

Das reportedly told staff that punishing violations by politicians from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would harm the company’s trade prospects in India.

Mohan said Das used to be not responsible for any decisions governing hate speech.

“You need to spotlight that the public policy team that Ankhi leads as a part of my team is separate from the satisfied policy team that enforces these decisions,” he said.

“The bias is for more speech to be on the platform than less,” he said, adding that the company did not wish to enable the “censorship of speech from elected officials or political leaders”.

Following a media storm over its alleged failure to act against BJP lawmaker Raja Singh, who called for Rohingya Muslim refugees from Myanmar to be shot, the firm banned him from Facebook and Instagram this month.

Facebook said he used to be barred under its “dangerous individuals and organisations” policy.

Is Android One holding back Nokia smartphones in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you’ll be able to subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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