Muslim employees of Facebook are reported to have raised the matter of the social media giant’s silence on alleged ‘anti-Muslim bigotry’ on its platform with its top leadership. Facebook has found itself in a controversy after one of its top executives, Ankhi Das, had allegedly refused to apply the platform’s hate-speech rules om BJP politicians due to the company’s business interests in India.
An open letter to the top leadership of Facebook by an internal group for Muslim employees said, “It is hard not to feel frustrated and saddened by the incidents reported … We know we’re not alone in this. Employees across the company are expressing similar sentiment.” It added, “The Muslim community at Facebook would like to hear from Facebook leadership on our asks.”
The group, called [email protected], has staffers from India, USA and the Middle East. “Many of us also believe our organizational structure combining content policy and government affairs under the same umbrella is fundamentally flawed,” the letter stated. “There was also no acknowledgement that we might have made mistakes in allowing such content to remain on the platform,” it added.
The letter continued, “This is deeply saddening and can be viewed as indicating a lack of empathy for the Muslim experience at best and a tacit condoning of this behaviour at worst.” Facebook spokesperson cited the letter as an example of the “open culture” that is apparently valued at Facebook.
The statement said, “Leaders at Facebook appreciate the honest, candid feedback they receive. We stand against anti-Muslim hate and bigotry and welcome the opportunity to continue the conversation on these issues.” The letter also went on to add that there was not a single non-Muslim organisation that was designated as a “dangerous organisation” in India.
Media deliberately hides the fact that Muslim Facebook employees raised the matter
Conveniently, certain media outlets deliberately cloaked the fact that the matter was raised by Muslim employees of Facebook. Reuters, which claims to have seen the letter, and reported that it was by an internal Facebook group, refused to divulge that it was an internal group for the tech giant’s Muslim employees.
Hindustan Times, which reproduced the report by Reuters, too, did not mention the fact that the open letter was penned by an internalFacebook group for its Muslim employees.
The most dubious attempt to hide the fact that it was a Muslim internal group came from NewsClick which cited the Wall Street Journal report on the matter but did not mention the fact. The WSJ did mention that it was a Muslim internal group in its report but NewsClick deliberately concealed the fact from its readers.
The Facebook-BJP Controversy
WSJ on 14th August posted an article in which they alleged that higher officials in Facebook India are showing biased towards political and religious hate comments made by the users. The media house said that Facebook is not taking any action against the accounts that are linked to BJP. The article gave a way to the opposition party to attack Facebook and the BJP-led government at the centre.
Some users, including Nidhi, ex-journalist NDTV, left Facebook to mark protest. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said in a tweet that he would raise the issue in front of the Parliamentary Committee and said, “Our Parliamentary committee will, in the normal course, consider testimony under the topic “Safeguarding citizens’ rights & prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms”. The subject is squarely within the IT Cmt’s mandate & Facebook has been summoned in the past.”
Rahul Gandhi, too, jumped on the scene and targeted Ankhi Das. Following the attack, she received threats to her life and consequently, a police complaint was filed related to the matter.