Facebook to be questioned in India amid hate speech controversy

An Indian parliamentary panel on information technology will today review Facebook’s content moderation standards and processes, following recent controversy over

Amritsar, India

Photo: AFP

An Indian parliamentary panel on information technology will today review Facebook’s content moderation standards and processes, following recent controversy over the company’s unwillingness to remove allegedly incendiary political posts.

Facebook has deferred to community guidelines to defend hate speech posts by leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), prompting both company employees and members of the public to demand closer scrutiny of its content moderation policies. While Facebook has reiterated that it categorically denounces hate and bigotry on its platforms, its business orientation and political agnosticism allow it to enjoy close relations with the BJP and other political parties.

The panel will likely call for greater transparency in enforcing community standards and interrogate Facebook’s political affiliations in its purported fight against hate speech. Facebook intends to convene an Oversight Board—an internal “Supreme Court” of sorts—that will be empowered to overturn decisions by the company and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in permitting individual content pieces. The board will likely focus on India following internal pressure from employees as well as political pressure from the Indian opposition. However, failure to comply is unlikely to yield significant change, given that the BJP’s patronage will maintain Facebook’s business prospects in the country.

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