Group of ex-civil servants ask Zuckerberg to audit Facebook’s hate speech coverage

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 24

A Constitutional Conduct Group of former civil servants on Monday wrote an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg asking him to make severe efforts to audit the implementation of the social media platform’s hate speech coverage in India and never undermine the secular and democratic foundation of the Indian Constitution by demonising minorities.

In an official launch, the group, having 54 members together with IAS (Retired) Salahuddin Ahmad, IPS (Retired) Shafi Alam and IPS (Retired) Okay Saleem Ali, stated, “We have written to him in the expectation that he will make serious efforts to audit the implementation of Facebook’s hate speech policy in India and not permit business considerations to demonise minorities and undermine the secular and democratic basis of the Indian Constitution.”

Noting that as a gaggle the members don’t have any political affiliation and imagine in being dedicated to the Indian Constitution, within the letter they stated, “We are writing to you now…, because certain actions (or the absence of certain actions) by Facebook in their operations in India have thrown into danger some of the fundamental rights of the people of India.”

In the letter, the group stated that Zuckerberg, being a US citizen, would perceive and admire the opposed influence of hate speech on democratic and elementary rights of individuals and that’s the reason Facebook has made it a part of its coverage to not enable content material, which assaults individuals on the idea of “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity and serious disabilities or diseases.”.

“Given this clear definition in your own policy, we are surprised that Facebook did not take action against some clear and serial offenders in India – persons like T Raja Singh and a few others – for their derogatory comments against people belonging to a different religion, accusing Muslims of spreading COVID 19, indulging in ‘love jihad’ and various other misdemeanours. What is striking about Facebook’s leniency towards these persons is that all of them happen to be members of the political party in power,” the letter learn.

The group stated, their consideration was drawn to this by an article within the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) dated August 14, 2020, and most democratic nations guarantee their residents of a number of fundamental rights and freedoms.

“We are dismayed to learn, again from the WSJ article, that the Public Policy Head of Facebook India consciously opposed applying Facebook’s hate speech rules to members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because doing so would adversely affect the company’s business prospects in India,” the letter learn.

Further reminding the Facebook CEO that he couldn’t be unaware that non secular unrest has turn out to be a significant issue in India, the group highlighted saying: “The recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), coupled with the proposed National Registry of Citizens (NRC), threatens to take away the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Muslims and other minorities in India and put them in detention centres”.

The group stated, “You cannot also be ignorant of the communal riots that took place in Delhi in February 2020, in which 53 persons were killed, two-thirds of them Muslims. Several cases of lynching and torture, primarily of Muslims and Dalits (oppressed castes and groups), have also occurred in India in recent years. The majority of these are related to ‘cow vigilantism’, i.e. religious extremists resorting to violence in apparent efforts to protect cows from being illegally slaughtered.” Many of those crimes have been instigated by means of hate speech unfold by means of varied communication channels, equivalent to Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter, they added.

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