Delhi riots: Facebook ‘has something to hide’


Raghav Chadha, chief of the Delhi Legislative Assembly’s committee on peace and harmony, Tuesday said Facebook’s refusal to appear before the state panel was an attempt to conceal crucial facts on the social network’s role in the February 2020 Delhi riots.

At least 53 people died that month as India’s national capital was wracked by violence — in the city’s northeast — with the immediate trigger being the Narendra Modi government’s controversial Citizenship Amendment Act.

Multiple news organizations have reported that the violence was orchestrated over social media, particularly the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, and global publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Time have since then published investigative pieces alleging a bias to the Right in Facebook India’s top echelons.

We had summoned Facebook India VP and MD Ajit Mohan over its role in the Delhi riots. In reply, Facebook has asked to withdraw summons as ‘regulation of intermediaries like Facebook falls within the exclusive authority of government of India’,” said Chadha.

Facebook’s letter, he said, was in disregard of the committee’s privilege. “It shows that Facebook has something to hide.”

Chadha further said fresh summons will be issued to it in line with the principle of natural justice.

He called Facebook India’s refusal to present before the committee a “contempt of the Delhi Legislative Assembly.”

The committee had summoned Ajit Mohan, vice president and managing director of Facebook India, citing “complaints alleging deliberate inaction by Facebook to apply hate speech rules, which allegedly led to the disruption of peace across Delhi.”

Facebook India wrote to the committee: “The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology is examining issues raised in your notice as a part of its inquiry into ‘safeguarding citizen’s rights’.”

The social media giant added: “The regulation of intermediaries like Facebook fall within the exclusive authority of the Union of India. Given that the matters are under consideration by Parliament, we object to the Notice and request you recall it.”

Last week, an Indian-origin Facebook engineer, Ashok Chandwaney, quit the company, accusing the social network of “profiting off hate” in the US and globally.