Facebook running into controversy over allegedly not doing enough to stop hate propaganda by India’s ruling party has not surprised activists in the United States who say there has been an “astronomical rise of rightwing Hindu trolls.”
The controversy has been raging since The Wall Street Journal quoted unnamed Facebook employees as saying that the company’s policy head for South Asia, Ankhi Das, personally intervened to stop BJP politicians from being censored on the social network — in order to ensure Facebook’s business prospects in its largest market.
“The news about Facebook’s Ankhi Das and BJP does not come as a shock to most of us activists,” Prerna Chawla, a member of Voices Against Fascism Team, told indica News.
The organization is part of the Coalition to Stop Genocide that has urged the US House of Representatives to launch a congressional probe into Facebook and its “role in amplifying hate and bigotry around the world, especially in South Asia.”
“The last few months we have seen an astronomical rise of rightwing Hindu trolls with the kind of hate speech that leaves one speechless,” said Los Angeles-based Chawla.
“Some of my colleagues would try to report it from the states, because we knew that it wouldn’t work from Facebook in India. We did not have any evidence, but knew that there has to be some kind of collusion to keep the accounts of people like Ragini Tiwari — who went viral after the Delhi pogrom early this year — and others spewing hate speech active without any repercussions or legal action,” she added.
Asked why the coalition has demanded that Facebook fire Das, Chawla said it was to set an example.
“The firing of Das will help at least in a small way. It will set an example for people that will come after her as her replacement and other higher-ups working at these social media platforms.” She said that the root of the problem was is a growing resentment and hatred for Muslims and minorities in India. “The last few years have already seen them being dehumanized,” she sent.
Facebook did not respond to an email for comment sent by indica News.
The social network is in the middle of a political storm in India.
A Delhi legislature panel has summoned Das over the riots in India’s capital city earlier this year that activists say were instigated and coordinated over Facebook and WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook.