FACEBOOK HATE SPEECH AND THE INDIAN POLITICS
The Author of this blog is Shaika Siddique, Student, Aligarh Muslim University,
The Wall Street Journal's Report
It all started with the report published in the Wall
Street Journal, which accused Facebook going against its own hate speech
policies and favouring the Indian ruling party- BJP. The report further went on
to take within it's sweep Ankhi Das who is the Public Policy Head, Facebook in
India, South and Central Asia. It is also being alleged that she has influenced
Facebook for not taking any action against the hate speech by the ruling party
as it will have an havoc impact on Facebook's business in India, because
Facebook has the largest number of users from India as Facebook is banned in
Banning Of T.Raja Facebook Account
At the core of the Wall Street Journal controversy, Facebook
banned the FB account of T.Raja Singh, a BJP leader by tagging as
"dangerous individual." Facebook has a policing staff to keep an eye
on the contents being promoted by using its platform. They have certain
criteria for tagging the account as dangerous individuals which incorporate
both online and offline activities. As in the instant case, T.Raja Singh on his
account has various hate speeches, be it about shooting the Rohingyas or anti
Muslim and others. However offline too T.Raja Singh was quite active in
bolstering hate speeches. Considering these his account was pulled down of the
Ruling v. Opposition - The Blame Game
Amid these there has been a slew of statements from both the ruling and the opposition
parties playing their favourite pastime - The Blame Game. While the Congress, much
predictably, wrote a letter to the Facebook founder, Mark Zukerberg alleging
Facebook to be a partisan platform promoting the right wing thoughts and being
pro-BJP. However letter to the CEO, Facebook has also been sent by Union
Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad blaming Facebook for
restricting the reach of right wing people to the masses and helping it's
opposition instead of being neutral.
Several tweets have also been made by members of both the
parties alleging each other of using the platform to the detriment of democracy
and promoting false and fake news and trying to contaminate the process of free
and fair elections. Whereas the counter attack too has been made while
answering the allegation which, in a gist , says that when the Congress have
lost their hold on the country it is baselessly claiming the BJP, to be
controlling the entire world.
Information and Technology Parliamentary Panel Headed by
Ajit Mohan, India Facebook head, was summoned for
answering the various allegations put forth by both the parties on 2nd
September,2020. Ajit Mohan was bombarded with questions from both sides as
Congress alleged Facebook for extending biased support to BJP as it can spend
more. Whereas the ruling party blamed Facebook for having connections with
Nevertheless, Ajit Mohan, advocated that Facebook is
neutral and unbiased, not affiliated to any political thoughts.
The Parliamentary Committee has called the India Facebook
representative to hear their views on safeguarding the citizens rights and
Replying to the various allegations, Ajit Mohan stated
that Facebook has globally removed 22.5 million hate speeches post, and also
mentioned that Facebook refers to global standards as far as the issue of hate
speech is concerned and could not adhere to any country specific guidelines.
Does Facebook Ensue Any Liability Pursuant To The Hate
Facebook - A New
Battle Field And The Hate Speeches Are a Weapon
Globally Facebook has become the new battlefield with all
the so called, self claimed upholders and protectors of our religion, caste
etc, we'll equipped with their weapons
in form of hate speech to defend their views. Hate Speech on facebook and other
social media platforms have become the fashion of the day. The situation is
such that none of us could, while scrolling the wall feed, contend of not
encountering even a single post relating to hate speech. The damage caused by
it is irreparable and massive.
Crisis of Religious Tensions
India is a land of diversity, people of myriad faiths,
culture, tradition, ethnicity etc inhabits the country. However the recent
crisis which the country is facing in the form of religious tension and zero
tolerance in aspect of diversity is a matter of deep concern. Nevertheless this
situation is further exacerbated by the free circulation of hate speeches on
social media platforms.
Amid the anti CAA protests, the Delhi riots and others
these hate speeches have just added fuel to the fire this worsening the
G.A.F.A.M. is the popularly used acronym for Google,
Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft, these big gigs by and large control and
regulate the global economy. India, in terms of number, has the maximum
facebook users. The simple logic is when a company is making giant profits,
does it not have any responsibility? However Facebook has often shrugged off
its responsibility by stating that it is not the publishers of the content
rather it only provides for the platform for their contents. Undoubtedly
facebook is a platform but is it no understood that whatever moves on its
platform bears it's consent and approval. It's high time that in India Facebook
should be held responsible for the damage that its content has done.
Facebook has taken plea of global standards to look into
the matter of hate speeches and stated that it cannot follow country specific
guidelines. However there is a rebuttal for their pleas, the condition of all
countries cannot be same, the sensitivity of the matter differs. So applying
the same universal standards is not the panacea of all illness.
Secondly where the company which is one the big names
across the world, shouldn't it's liability be proportional to its profit
making. Facebook has a team of content reviewer, who review the content and
erase them if found against the guidelines of Facebook.
In The Matter
Asking for judiciary to interfere in the matter would be
futile as we all know the short span of time within which the hate speech
serves it's purpose. Efforts to judicially attend these hate speech anyhow will
consume some hours and that time interval will be sufficient for the hate
speech to do the desired damage.
Moreover putting the burden of this online monster on the
judiciary will be like adding additional weights to an already overburdened
institution leading to its inefficiency.
Hate Speech v.
Freedom of Speech And Expression
Restriction on the people’s right to expression and
speech in any form and kind will attract great protest all around the nation.
However where there is a right, there is a restriction. Article 19(2) provides
for the grounds on which restrictions can be imposed on the freedom of speech
and expression in the interest of public order, security of the state ,
incitement of an offence are few among other grounds.
· The Collaboration Between The Government And Facebook To Fight Against The Menace Of Hate Speech
The government has to come forward to protect the citizen
from the wrath of hate speech. The government should issue certain topics on
which commenting on social media or Facebook will attract criminal liabilities
and be punishable. However people interested to comment on the same can do so
by pulishing it through any editorial or other medium which does not result in
an instant publication without a robust review mechanism.
In this even the judiciary could play a role by setting
precedent by punishing those violating the government instructions on publication
on social media.
Even the Facebook has make its team of content reviewer more active and aware about the huge hate speech content generated by its users every now and then.