Asia

Delhi summons top Indian Facebook official over hateful content

NEW DELHI (AFP) – Delhi summoned Facebook’s India chief on Saturday (Sept 12) to answer allegations that the social media giant failed to remove dangerous content in its biggest market globally.

India is the United States-based firm and its messaging service WhatsApp’s biggest market in terms of users, and the company is under pressure worldwide over the policing of hate speech.

Facebook has been embroiled in a huge row in India after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported in August that the site failed to take down anti-Muslim comments by a politician from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in order to protect its business interests.

The Delhi Assembly panel on peace and harmony said on Saturday that it would investigate evidence – described by the committee as “incriminating material on record” – submitted by four prominent journalists and digital rights activists.

The committee has asked Mr Ajit Mohan, the managing director of Facebook India, to appear before it next Tuesday to determine the “veracity of allegations” made by the group.

It follows US civil rights groups claiming last week that the firm had failed to address hateful content in India and demanded that its India policy chief Ankhi Das be removed.

Facebook has denied any political bias but admitted it has to do better to curb hate speech.

The panel – headed by Mr Raghav Chadha, a lawmaker with a party rivalling Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s BJP – also said the firm should be probed over its “alleged role and complicity” in the sectarian Delhi riots in February.

Around 50 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the worst unrest in years between India’s majority Hindus and minority Muslims.

After the furore over the WSJ’s August report, Facebook blocked Mr T. Raja Singh, a BJP lawmaker who had said Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar should be shot.

Mr Singh told AFP he would fight the ban and that Facebook’s action was an attack on BJP.

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