Facebook India head Ajit Mohan told a parliamentary panel on Wednesday that the social media giant had found no cause to act against the Hindu-nationalist organisation Bajrang Dal after reports had emerged claiming Facebook did not scrutinize accounts belonging to the Hindu organisation.
According to the reports, Ajit Mohan was summoned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on Wednesday chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to discuss the safety of user data. During the hearing, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram referred to a report by The Wall Street Journal that claimed Facebook had allowed the Bajrang Dal to thrive because “cracking down Bajrang Dal might endanger both the company’s business prospects and its staff in India”.
The WSJ report had claimed that despite an internal assessment calling for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, Facebook had not cracked down on the Hindu nationalist group due to these reasons.
Responding to the allegations by the WSJ, Facebook officials said before the panel members that Facebook’s fact-checking team had not, so far, found any content, among material posted by the Bajrang Dal, that violated its social media policies.
Following the WSJ report, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) had said it will take legal action against the publishers for trying to insult India and for crossing its limit.
Facebook calls WSJ report on Bajrang Dal as factually ‘wrong and untrue’
Facebook India chief Ajit Mohan has also rejected the WSJ report saying it was “factually wrong and untrue”. The Facebook team led by Mohan told the parliamentary panel that people quoted in the WSJ report “had no knowledge or authority, and were not in the hierarchical chain” to comment on the decision making process.
Mohan, however, was not able to respond on why the social media giant had not issued a rejoinder to the WSJ report. Facebook has also not sought correction of facts from WSJ.
When the panel asked the Facebook officials about the specific mechanisms the company employed to check hate speech, the social media giant reportedly told the panel that it has no grievance redressal mechanism in India. The team also claimed it did not favour any individual or political party, and was not facing any political pressure either.
It is pertinent to note that Facebook chief in India Ajit Mohan has links with the Congress party and had served in the Sonia Gandhi-led UPA. He was an advisor to the UPA and Planning Commission under Sonia Gandhi led UPA. Mohan was also associated with Kerala Congress as a consultant. He had joined Facebook India as managing director and vice-president just before 2019 general elections.