Panel grills Facebook head for state of no activity on Bajrang Dal – india news

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The parliamentary panel on information technology on Wednesday reproached Facebook India head Ajit Mohan over the social media company’s reluctance to ban the Bajrang Dal even though an internal outline, according to the Wall Road Publication, termed the Hindu nationalistic group a “dangerous” organisation. It is the second one time in five months that the panel has found reason to rebuke the company for not heeding its own internal assessments.

The question used to be raised by Congress party MPs and members of the panel, Shashi Tharoor, Karti Chidambaram and Nasir Hussain, people familiar with the matter said. Tharoor heads the panel, which met representatives of Facebook to question them on its efforts to safeguard citizens’ rights, prevent misuse of online news platforms and make sure women’s security in the digital space.

“The MPs wanted to realize why Facebook hadn’t acted on the internal outline that had called the organisation dangerous,” said a person aware of the proceedings of the assembly, requesting anonymity.

Wall Road Publication reported that an internal assessment by Facebook had described the Bajrang Dal as dangerous, but the company did not act on the outline as a result of financial and safety concerns. WSJ on December 14 reported that Facebook “balked at removing the group” because its security team warned that action against Bajrang Dal “might hazard both the company’s trade prospects and its staff in India”.

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone had denied the allegations stating that the company has a “careful, rigorous and multidisciplinary” approach in relation to enforcing a ban on individuals or organisations on the social media company.

“We enforce our Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy globally without regard to political position or party affiliation,” Stone said, according to the outline.

People familiar with the matter said Mohan dismissed the WSJ outline as “fake news”.

“Some MPs also wanted to realize why Facebook hadn’t flagged it as fake whether the article wasn’t true,” said the first person cited above.

A second person aware of Wednesday’s proceedings said the social media company contended that Bajrang Dal may remain on Facebook, but any hate posts on its page would be taken down.

“The MPs also wanted to realize why Facebook can’t take down a post suo moto whether its violates its hate policy,” the second one person said. They pointed out that by the point someone complains approximately a post, it should have “already served its purpose.”

Facebook told HT that the social media platform used to be translucent and allowed people to express themselves freely.

“We thank the Honorable Parliamentary Committee for their time. We remain dedicated to be an open and translucent platform, and to giving people a voice and letting them express themselves freely,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Among other issues discussed were Facebook’s grievance redressal system, which the panel said will have to be based in India and not in the USA.

The panel also quizzed Facebook on its fact-checking mechanism and revenue mannequin. “It also needs to be ascertained if Facebook is a publisher or an middleman, there needs to be accountability,” said the second one person. “Facebook’s ability to manipulate the reach of a post used to be also brought up at the assembly. Why is it that anti-government posts don’t get same traction as pro-government ones.”

The panel also sought background information on all 268 Facebook India employees.

Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra :also asked Facebook “if or not it monetizes data,” said the first person mentioned above.

The person added: “Facebook used to be evasive on the issue. It shows they might not be selling the data but they have got a system that permits them to monetize it.”

It’s not the first time that Facebook has found itself in the midst of a controversy in India following a Wall Road Publication outline. According to an August 14 outline in the newspaper, .Facebook’s then-South Asia public policy director Ankhi Das intervened to stop Telangana Bharatiya Janata Party legislator T Raja Singh from being banned from the social media site over conceivable fallout for the company’s trade interests in India.

Singh used to be eventually banned permanently from Facebook and Das resigned from the company in October to “pursue my personal interest in public service.”

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