With the breaking news of Facebook’s alleged spreading anti-Muslim sentiments in India and assisting the ruling party, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), to create a hateful sentiment, the debate has once again started over the credibility and power structure of the social media platform.
Different news portals have conducted several assessments and found that Facebook is allowing anti-Islam posts that align with its bias. The biggest trick here is that Facebook is not increasing the reach of hate posts, rather decreasing the reach of or permanently suspending the accounts of human rights activists. Most of these activists are from Muslim-majority areas like Palestine and Kashmir, which are highly exploited right now.
‘Community standards’ not for all
Facebook’s user policies and community guidelines talk of unity, harmony, and condemning hate speech with constant monitoring. But the recent investigation by the Wall Street Journal reveals that Facebook prefers to keep politics over social and moral responsibility when it comes to the issues regarding Muslim minorities.
A 2019 report by +972 Magazine also noticed a trend of shutting down WhatsApp (which is now owned by Facebook) and Facebook accounts of about 100 journalists and activists, banning them from sharing updates of when Israeli warplanes attacked Gaza in November 2019. A similar bias is seen in the case of Kashmir, a Muslim majority disputed region between India and Pakistan. This selective approach and favoritism mostly rule out against Muslims, triggering a worldwide debate.
Supporting a chain of hate-mongering
WSJ supports its argument with evidence of right-wing political leaders like Kapil Mishra actively inciting violence in India and leading to the Delhi Riots 2020, without getting flagged on the social media platform. Another BJP leader T. Raja Singh openly called for Rohingya Muslims’ slaughter and threatened to demolish mosques. While Facebook’s online security staff initiated a ban on his account, Ankhi Das, the Public Policy Director of Facebook India, stepped in to stop the ban.
Facebook employees, according to the Wall Street Journal, say that she was motivated not to prevent hate speech because “punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country.” These incidents belong to a sequential agenda of pushing forth the Hindu nationalist ideals in India, aligning with the country’s ruling party, which is a huge market of Facebook, with 290 million users.
Aligning with the powerful
As the statement of Ankhi Das also suggests, Facebook is currently capitalizing over hatred against a community, regardless of the human sentiments involved. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, also accepted that the platform covertly spread propaganda linked to the Myanmar military, further related to the Rohingya Muslim genocide. While Facebook is not directly involved in these vile acts, it sure gives a platform for hatred to grow and spread on a broader rate than it was ever possible in history.
What the Policy Times is saying?
- The operations of Facebook are so covert that you can be highly educated and aware, still believe in its propaganda. Responsible surfing of the internet and social media is a requisite now.
- Facebook is minting money over our data, so we must choose to regulate it. Let us not engage with hate speech of any kind, be it against a race, religion, or ideology.