Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has taken down her Facebook post, which accused the Modi government of privatising Indian Railways by transferring its proprietorship to the Adani Group. The Congress scion was forced to back-pedal on her attempt to fearmonger after Facebook flagged her tweet as “misleading” content.
Facebook made Priyanka Vadra’s post unavailable after marking it as “missing content”. It stated that the independent fact-checkers, with whom the social media giant works, have identified and declared Vadra’s post misleading and false.
Moreover, PIB Fact Check, a dedicated platform set up to counter fake news related to government’s policies and scheme, on Wednesday, also flagged claims made by Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi on Facebook and called it “misleading”. In a tweet, PIB Fact Check shared a screenshot of Priyanka Gandhi’s post and said a “false claim” is being spread that a private company’s stamp was pasted on Indian Railways train.
दावा: #फेसबुक पर एक वीडियो के साथ यह दावा किया जा रहा है कि सरकार ने भारतीय रेल पर एक निजी कंपनी का ठप्पा लगवा दिया है। #PIBFactCheck: यह दावा भ्रामक है। यह केवल एक वाणिज्यिक विज्ञापन है जिसका उद्देश्य केवल ‘गैर किराया राजस्व’ को बेहतर बनाना है। pic.twitter.com/vSmK8Xgdis— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) December 16, 2020
On December 14, Priyanka Gandhi shared a video showing “Adani Wilmar” written on the engine of a train. “The BJP government has put a stamp of its billionaire friend Adani on the Indian Railway, which was established through hard works of millions of people. Gradually, a large portion of railways will go to Modi ji’s billionaire friends. Farmers are fighting to prevent farming from going into the hands of Modi ji’s billionaire friends,” the Congress leader had posted.
While Priyanka Gandhi Vadra pulled down her tweet from Facebook, she continued to spread the same misleading news on Twitter. She has still not undone retweeting Hardik Patel’s Tweet in which the working President of Gujarat Congress shared the same video saying, “Adani’s fresh flour advertisements on Indian Railways are worth a watch. Now we can say with belief that the farmers’ fight is on the path of truth.”
Here is why Facebook taking down Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s tweet is a rare incident and how she can continue to lie like her brother Rahul Gandhi without ever getting fact-checked by Facebook
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had to pull down her tweet because in a rare incident, Facebook had marked the post as misleading information (rightly so, but rare nonetheless). The Congress party has religiously spread fake news almost everyday. Even their scion Rahul Gandhi has almost based his contemporary political career out of spreading misinformation, disinformation and plain fake news on several occasions.
If one notices, these posts have never really been marked by Facebook or its ‘independent’ fact-checkers as ‘misleading info’.
Does this mean that Facebook has suddenly decided to become spectacularly ‘neutral’ and has shifted focus to India well before the 2024 election?
Well, yes and no.
Facebook has not become neutral and suddenly woken up to the lies being spread by Congress, as many would like to believe. They might have shifted their focus to India, just like Twitter did recently, but that is not really why they marked the fake news by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as misleading.
According to Facebook guidelines, social media does not ‘fact-check’ political speech. Which is to say, that if a politician posts something on Facebook out of his own will, or makes his own video and post on the platform, even if it spreads lies, it will not be ‘fact-checked’ by Facebook or its fact-checkers. The rationale behind this is that political speech should be beyond the ambit of their fact-checkers and there should be no hindrance to the political discussion by those hoping to be elected.
In one recent case where Facebook had indeed marked and fact-checked a politician was Donald Trump. However, they did not label his posts under their ‘fact-checking’ policy. They found a work-around using their ‘community standards’ guideline, which basically says that the posts by Trump could have led to violence or disruption of peace.
To further simplify – while Facebook’s fact-checking program does not apply on politicians as long as they share their own content and don’t re-share fake news by any other page or platform, their posts can be flagged by Facebook if the platform thinks they violate their ‘community standards’. When Facebook does mark posts by a politician for violating ‘community standards’ as they did with Trump, it is not the ‘fact-checkers’ that Facebook collaborates with who do this, but another team of Facebook that is responsible for maintaining community standards.
So what happened in the case of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra?
Well, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had shared a third-party video that turned out to be fake, and hence, the fact-checkers could mark that tweet was misleading info.
Had she like her brother made her own video peddling these lies, Facebook would have essentially done absolutely nothing since it does not flag fake news by politicians since for them, it comes under the umbrella of ‘political speech’.
Therefore, if Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wishes to continue spreading fake news, she should learn from veterans like Rahul Gandhi and start making her own videos. Luckily for her and her brother, their lies are protected under ‘political speech’ as far as Facebook is concerned. For the public – well – their string of losses indicate otherwise.