Executives of social media giant Facebook were questioned on Wednesday by an Indian parliamentary panel after allegations of bias on how the company’s in-house policies for regulating hate speech were applied on the platform.
The panel called Facebook India’s representatives after a report in the Wall Street Journal newspaper alleged the company overlooked hate speech posts by leaders and right-wing Hindu groups affiliated with the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Wall Street Journal report accused Facebook of not applying its hate speech rules to anti-Muslim rhetoric, and provided examples of when posts were not removed even after being flagged.
Facebook has denied any bias, and said it is a non-partisan platform.
“We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Facebook India Director Ajit Mohan said in a statement soon after the controversy broke.
The meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology was not open to the public or media.
The parliament secretariat said the panel would hear the Facebook representatives’ views on “safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms.”
The panel is chaired by Shashi Tharoor, a member of the opposition Indian National Congress.
The row has led to a political slugfest in India, with the BJP also accusing Facebook of bias against it.
With 346.2 million users in India in 2020, Facebook sees the country as one of its most promising markets.
In 2015, the platform had 135.6 million users, according to online business data platform Statista. (dpa/NAN)