Facebook under investigation in India; Summoned to appear before IT Panel

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Social media giant Facebook is expected to be questioned by an Indian parliamentary committee will question the firm’s executives on how the social media giant regulates political content in the country. 

Facebook and its top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, had come under criticism after a news report said she resisted practicing hate-speech practices to a politician from India’s ruling party.

As per a notice published yesterday, Facebook has been summoned to appear for an interaction lasting 30 minutes on Sept. 2 before the information technology panel, which considers issues like social media abuse

“The subject is serious because of Facebook’s extensive reach in India … and the potential for hate speech to incite violence and other unlawful behavior,” one of the panel members who broke the news to the media said.

“How worrying this is, is to be determined after a hearing process is concluded.”

Facebook, which has more than 300 million users in India, its biggest market has long faced criticism for high-profile content moderation issues.

Recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that Das told staff that applying hate-speech rules to politicians close to India’s ruling party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Facebook is also facing internal conflicts on this matter as employees in the United States and beyond have raised questions in internal forums about whether adequate content regulation practices are being followed by the India team and demanded some changes.

Facebook’s soon-to-be-operational Content Oversight Board, which handles appeals for blocked or removed content upon moderation said it was committed to protecting users.

“How Facebook treats posts from public figures that may violate the Community Standards are within the scope of the Board,” the board said in a statement.

“We won’t shy away from the tough cases and holding Facebook accountable,” said the board, which has powers to overturn decisions by the company and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on whether individual pieces of content should be allowed or not.