In a shocking revelation, reputed American newspaper The Wall Street Journal has revealed the dirty nexus between Facebook India and the BJP. An investigative report published by the WSJ has stunningly revealed how Facebook’s top public-policy executive in India, Ankhi Das, blocked the move to ban Islamophobic posts by BJP leaders.
The WSJ report said, “The company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to (T Raja) Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence.”
Raja is known to issue chilling threats to India’s Muslim community. In April this year, blaming the Tablighi Jamaat members for spreading the coronavirus, the lone BJP MLA from Telangana had asked the chief ministers of various states to shoot the members of the Islamic organisation dead if they refused to undergo medical tests.
The Wall Street Journal report added, “Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from [Indian Prime Minister Narendra] Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects.”
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone, according to the report, ‘acknowledged that Das had raised concerns about the political fallout that would result from designating Singh a dangerous individual.’
Help in 2019 elections
Aside from helping BJP hatemongers to spread Islamophobia, the WSJ report also claimed that Das was also instrumental in providing ‘favourable treatment on election-related issues’ to the BJP during the 2019 general elections.
Quoting unnamed Facebook employees, the WSJ report claimed, “In April of last year, days before voting began in India’s general election, Facebook announced it had taken down inauthentic pages tied to Pakistan’s military and the Congress party, the BJP’s main rival party. But it didn’t disclose it also removed pages with false news tied to the BJP, because Ms. Das intervened.”
Facebook deleted some of the hate posts by Singh only after the US-based newspaper approached the social media giant for its response. It also removed the verified blue tick from Singh’s account and said that it was ‘still considering whether a ban is warranted.’
Another Islamophobe that Facebook did not take action against was BJP’s Anantkumar Hegde, who too said that Muslims were spreading coronavirus in the country as part of a conspiracy called ‘Corona Jihad.’ While Twitter banned Hegde’s account for his Islamophobic posts, Facebook refused to act against him allegedly at the behest of Das, who is believed to be very close to the ruling party.
The refusal to act against Islamophobia had its chilling effects as BJP leaders used Facebook and its other platform, WhatsApp, to cause religious pogroms in February this year, killing 53 people dead. In February, a video featuring former BJP legislator Kapil Mishra had emerged showing him issue chilling threats to those protesting against the controversial citizenship act. “(Facebook’s Mark) Zuckerberg had cited Mishra’s post, without naming him, in an employee town hall meeting in June, as an example of the sort of behavior that the platform wouldn’t tolerate from a politician,” the report said, adding that the company removed the video.
Netizens are demanding action against Das. Hashtags #AnkhiDas and #AntiIndiaFacebook became a top trend on Twitter soon after the WSJ report went viral.