Facebook case: Delhi Assembly panel to examine ex-employee Mark S. Luckie

The Delhi Assembly's Committee on Peace and Harmony will on Tuesday examine digital strategist and former journalist Mark S. Luckie, a key witness in continuation of the proceedings against Facebook.

The proceedings of the committee will be streamed live to get new points against Facebook over its alleged inaction in tackling harmful content on its platform. There were allegations against Facebook over its conduct on various instances, including the conduct of free and fair elections, and the Delhi riots.

The committee has sent a formal notice to Luckie to appear before it on Tuesday. The move is in continuation of the previous proceedings of the Committee under the chairmanship of Raghav Chadha.

An employee at Facebook 2017-18, Luckie has led media partnerships for some of the influential social platforms in the world, including Facebook, Twitter and Reddit -- an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website.

He had left Facebook in November 2018 after claiming that it inculcates a "misguided work system" which has led to division in communities, especially by the actions and inactions of the company.

Highlighting the "rampant racism" operating within the company's framework, Luckie has published a memo where he contended that minorities are finding that their attempts to create "safe spaces" on Facebook for conversation among themselves are being derailed by the platform itself.

Significantly, some of the witnesses who deposed before the committee (Awesh Tiwari and Pratik Sinha) have also alleged similar issues where Facebook has been biased while treating the content of persons who have been critical of the ruling dispensation.

For the very first time, an international Facebook employee has come forward to depose before a committee in India to unveil the realities behind the curtain, and Luckie's testimony will be extremely crucial to the current proceedings carried out by the committee.

He has also asserted that owing to company's "inherent biased" modus of operation, minority communities are not able to trust that Facebook have their best interests at heart and under-represented groups are being systematically excluded from communication.

Luckie, who has also led digital initiatives for the Washington Post, the Center for investigative reporting, The Los Angeles Times, and Entertainment Weekly, has openly called out Facebook for its "dismissive attitude towards prevalent prejudices and exclusionary approach in its functionality".

So far, the committee has received inputs from the experts who have been observing the functioning of Facebook from outside. But through Luckie, the committee shall be acquainted with the subtleties of the huge incorporation, from someone who has worked closely within it.

The committee in its earlier meetings have examined certain independent and expert witnesses having regards to the issue of grave public importance set out in the complaints set out against Facebook.

In pursuance of its fundamental objective to maintain peace and harmony across Delhi, the committee had decided to delve into the matter of concern raised in the complaints and consequently the proceedings were initiated and expedited in conformity with its terms of reference.

Former in wake of the Delhi riots, it had received many complaints, which said that Facebook did not remove hurtful content from its platform.

The committee initiated its first round of proceedings by summoning the witnesses, including journalist and author Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and digital rights activist and journalist Nikhil Pahwa, to assist the committee.

The committee has taken cognisance of the complaints against Facebook officials. The social media platform has faced criticism over allegations that it favours the BJP-led NDA government in India to push its own business goals in Asia's third largest economy.

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Free Press Journal