The Delhi legislative assembly committee on peace and harmony on Tuesday (August 25) initiated proceedings against Facebook for its alleged inaction to tackle harmful content on its platform.
Last week, the assembly’s committee on peace and harmony took cognizance of complaints against Facebook officials and also said the social media website will be probed to find if “there was any role or complicity of Facebook officials in Delhi riots” which took place earlier this year.
The social media platform has faced criticism over allegations that it favours the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India, to push its own business goals in Asia’s third-largest economy. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Ankhi Das, Facebook India’s director for public policy, had opposed the removal of content from BJP leaders, that qualified as hate speech.
In the meeting by the Delhi legislative assembly panel, which lasted for over three hours, members recommended summoning officials from the social media platform following the allegations against them over their conduct on various instances, including the conduct of free and fair elections and the Delhi riots, reported Mint.
Two independent activists — journalist and author Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and digital rights activist and journalist Nikhil Pahwa — were also invited to assist the committee.
“The witnesses who came before the committee today have all said that Facebook officials must be summoned before this committee so they can present their side and clarify their stance. This committee which was formed after the Delhi riots has received many complaints which said that Facebook did not remove hurtful content from its platform. This committee will call upon people from Facebook,” Raghav Chadha, chairperson of the committee, said at the end of the proceedings.
With a slew of controversies in the past two months — and high-profile incidents on Facebook related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests in the US — Facebook has not only earned the ire of users and politicians. In the past two months, popular brands like Diaego, Airtel, PepsiCo, Coca Cola and Adidas have reportedly reduced their advertising on Facebook and Instagram in India. The move is in line with their parent companies’ decision to avoid being related to objectionable content. Advertising is the largest contributor to Facebook’s revenue, the company reported its ads revenue to be over $70 Bn in 2019.