An India right-wing politician who has called for violence against Muslims and threatened to raze mosques continues to remain active on Facebook and Instagram, even though officials at the social media giant had ruled earlier this year the lawmaker violated the company’s hate-speech rules.
The move to not proceed against T. Raja Singh, a member of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party, came after Facebook’s top public-policy executive in India, Ankhi Das, opposed applying the hate-speech rules to Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, the newspaper quoted current and former employees as saying.
he decision was influenced by Das, whose job also includes lobbying the Indian government on Facebook’s behalf, telling staff members that punishing violations by politicians from the BJP would “damage the company’s business prospects in the country”, which is Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users, the exposé said.
The way Facebook has applied its hate-speech rules to prominent Hindu nationalists in India “suggests that political considerations also enter into the calculus” of policing hate speech, it added.
Current and former Facebook employees cited in the report said Das’s intervention on behalf of Singh is part of “a broader pattern of favouritism by Facebook toward Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners”.
According to the report, Facebook employees charged with policing the platform had concluded by March that Singh’s rhetoric against Muslims and Rohingya immigrants online and offline not only violated hate-speech rules but he also qualified as “dangerous” for his words could lead to real-world violence against Muslims.
Yet, instead of following the officials’ recommendation to permanently ban him from the platform, the company allowed Singh, a member of the Telangana Legislative Assembly, to remain active on Facebook and Instagram, where he has hundreds of thousands of followers.