The Wall Street Journal has put out a story with interviews of the organization’s staff and shown that Facebook has been partial by allowing right-wing fascist forces to freely post hate post including images in India.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, on the other hand, patronizingly spewed out the FB official line that blah blah blah we have heard numerous times every time such charges are levelled against it.
One does not need either WSJ nor FB to enlighten India’s netizens about the hate messages – specifically those that incite violence, communal hate and murder – on both platforms. Everyone who uses the platforms is aware of these. It is obvious that these platforms have become a major vehicle for disseminating false information, inflammatory post, hate speech and messages inciting violence and murder, along with actively suppressing dissent.
At the same , it is these very platforms that have also been actively blocking posts that are anti-government or are those that are in tandem with the Constitutional rights of expression in expressing dissent.
India is going through the darkest periods in its history with the growing onslaught of fascism. Most sections of the mainline media are compromised and keep dishing out one lie after another, one propaganda another concerning the government and its leadership, while at the same time cutting off the voice of dissent. Social media is where the truth is being reported by the common man and dissent is being expressed. FB has over 346.2 million Indian users – that is a little over one-fourth of the population. These platforms make their billions from these users. The users themselves may directly not be paying for it and may be receiving some sort of a useful service, but they are paying for it through advertisers who sell them products and pass on the costs to them. Facebook has no business getting involved with or taking sides in internal social, political or religious issues of the users of any nation.
It is not merely Public Policy Director of Facebook India, South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das, alone in FB who is doing the bidding of the communal-fascist forces in India. For long it has been known that the Indian operations of these organizations have been infiltrated by these forces who are doing the bidding of their masters.
At the same time, these forces have also infiltrated numerous FB groups, where they indulge in making the criminal posts. One Das cannot do it alone. What she has done has created a policy that enables these infiltrated elements inside and outside to come into play at will. These elements, on one hand, promote communal-fascist posts, while suppressing dissent against the government and its leadership on the other.
Following the public outcry over the issue, some scapegoats may have to pay for these criminal acts, but the fact is the blame lies as much with the CEO as with the fascists in his organization.
As CEO it is he who has to take responsibility for the actions of his employees who are paid by him to do what he allows. He cannot merely pocket the profits and leave the blame of criminality from which he makes the profits on to users.
Neither can he feign ignorance about the affairs of his India operations and pass the buck. India provides him with the largest number of users from any single country and he has specific interest in it, so has to be very much in the loop in FB policy issues such as those set out by Das. He is as culpable as Das. In his own homeland, he would have been severely prosecuted and punished for the policy presided over by Das. He almost landed in jail over the Cambridge-Analytica data breach affair which happened right under his nose, under his policies.
Alternately, if he is not able to control and manage his staff, he should quit as CEO. Which he won’t do. But that does not solve the problem, and it does need solving.
And it is not only in India that Facebook is playing mischief. The Guardian reports that the Facebook algorithm actively promotes denial of the Jewsish holocaust by Hitler and his Nazis. Hitler and his Nazis are also the inspiration for the fountain head of the BJP – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). There are many other instances where Facebook has instead of being a social interaction platform taken on the role of meddling in international and national affairs which are none of its business.
So far, in most countries, including India, there is no law that holds the owners and CEOs of social media companies responsible for the content uploaded by their users. That is how they have been getting away with such criminality. What is needed is a law that that makes them too criminally culpable.
But the activities of these social media platforms that are a threat to democracy are those that the present government won’t move to act against by means of a law despite parliamentary committees existing for such purposes. These policies serve its interests and have been put forth by someone who is apparently close to the government and its ideology, while the Modi-Shah duo merely runs rough-shod over the committees as been the government’s demonstrated style of governing – a government that is reduced merely to the two. Moreover, such posts mostly emanate from the ruling government’s and its fountainhead -RSS’s IT cells.
It is now up to the people to act against the menace and force a law that deals with it conclusively. There is nothing that prevents the common man from filing FIRs against each and everyone of the hate posts that come from any source.
More importantly, Zuckerberg and all India related senior management must be made co-accused in each of these FIRs with the objective of putting pressure on lawmakers to legislate law that holds them responsible for the content on their platforms. That’s the only way to curtail the criminal activities. In their rush towards profit and the necessary accommodations, and in the absence of such a law, these platforms have enabled every criminal and nutcase to put up inflammatory material. Zuckerberg must be made answerable personally in India.
And just a few FIRs are not going to do the job. A FIR has to be filed in every single post that is objectionable by human and constitutional standards, across the nation and PIL’s too have to be moved.