Even though recent events suggest Facebook India handlers have been favourably disposed towards the BJP, Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad thinks otherwise.
In fact, he has sent a stern missive to CEO Mark Zuckerberg objecting to senior Facebook officials “on record abusing the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers”. The minister writes that this was indeed a problem since these employees were holding key positions in the Indian affiliate of the social media platform.
To buttress his case, Prasad drew Zuckerberg’s attention to “a concerted effort by Facebook in the run up to the 2019 general elections to delete pages or substantially reduce their reach but also offer no recourse or right of appeal to affected people who are supportive of the right of centre ideology”.
He further laments that he sent dozens of mails in this regard to the social media giant, which went unheeded. However, there were attempts through "selective leaks" to portray a different reality, he writes.
Warming up to the theme, Prasad says the "interference in India's political process through gossip, whispers and innuendo is condemnable. This collusion of Facebook with the international media is giving free run to malevolent vested interests to cast aspersions on the democratic process of our great democracy."
The Union minister said there were multiple instances of the social media platform being used by radical elements “whose sole aim is to destroy social order,” to recruit people and gather them for violence.
Stating that any meaningful action is yet to be taken against such elements, he asked if it is being held back by the "same vested groups who have an incentive in stoking violence and political instability in India".
Another issue raised by Prasad is the outsourcing of fact-checking services to third parties, which he called "shady organisations with no credibility". Prasad said it seemed "deeply entrenched vested interests aren't satisfied with the shrinking space on one side of the spectrum in India and want to throttle it completely."
He said only an "internal power struggle" could "explain how facts are being spun by selective leaks from within your company to try and portray an alternate reality". He concludes with an appeal that Facebook puts in place country-specific community guidelines that respect the social and religious diversity of India.