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India's Ruling BJP, Opposition Parties at Odds Over Plans to Seek Facebook Response on Hate Speech

© REUTERS / Dado RuvicA man is silhouetted against a video screen with a Facebook logo as he poses with a smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Zenica.
A man is silhouetted against a video screen with a Facebook logo as he poses with a smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Zenica. - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): The Indian parliamentary panel on information technology headed by main opposition party Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor earlier indicated, the panel would ask social network platform Facebook to clarify its position on allegedly bending hate speech rules in favour of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and opposition parties clashed on Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology Chairman Shashi Tharoor’s statement that the panel would wish to hear from the tech company about reports of bending its “hate speech rules” in India.

BJP lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology Nishikant Dubey claimed Shashi Tharoor as chairman of the panel “does not have the authority to do anything without discussion of the agenda with its members".

Dubey said the chairman has to follow the rules of the parliamentary panel before summoning Facebook officials before it.

"Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor should discuss the issue of summoning Facebook officials before the parliamentary panel. He can only raise such issues according to the rules of the panel", said Dubey in a tweet in Hindi.

​In response to the ruling lawmaker, opposition Trinamool Congress member Mahua Moitra said the issue was well within the prerogative of the panel chairman. "Amazing how BJP jumps up and down at anything to do with FB's interests", Moitra tweeted.

​Shashi Tharoor shot back at the ruling party lawmaker, charging that "by imputing motives to my decision, Nishikant Dubey has brought the Committee's work into disrepute". He slammed Dubey's onjecting to taking up such an issue of "great public interest".

​A report in The Wall Street Journal cited Facebook insiders, who claimed that the company’s senior policy executive in India, Ankhi Das intervened in its internal content review process to stop a ban on a BJP legislator from Telangana, T. Raja Singh, who allegedly shared posts targeting Muslims.

The Congress party said the report exposed the “sinister connection” between Facebook-WhatsApp and the BJP government in India.

Facebook, however denied any such bias. "We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation".

Ankhi Das, Facebook India's Public Policy Director, in the meanwhile, has filed a police complaint in Delhi that she was getting “death threats” and that some people are posting obscene messages against her.

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