Droop Fb’s Ankhi Das Pending An Audit, Demand Human Rights Teams Round The World
NEW DELHI, India – More than 40 human rights groups and internet surveillance organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center and Muslim Advocates, call on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to invite Ankhi Das, the company’s Public Policy Director for India, South and Central Asia, to to suspend. After the Wall Street Journal announced that it had decided not to apply the social network’s hate speech guidelines to politicians from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party who published anti-Muslim hate speech.
In an open letter, the US, UK and New Zealand-based groups demanded that Das be given leave pending an audit by Facebook India and “should be removed from their role” if the audit substantiates the journal’s coverage. They also urged Facebook to work with civil society groups and human rights activists in India.
“It is high time Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook take hatred against Muslims seriously and change the application of its policies in Asia and around the world,” said Heidi Beirich, executive vice president of strategy for the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, one the signatory of the letter said in a statement. “The scandal in the Indian office, where anti-Muslim and other forms of hatred were allowed to stay online because of religious and political prejudice, is appalling and the leadership in that office is complicit.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for a comment.
The, one of Facebook’s most powerful leaders, came under scrutiny after the Wall Street Journal revealed it stepped in to protect T. Raja Singh, a country-level BJP politician, and at least three other Hindu nationalists from the hate speech Protecting Facebook would be bad for business. She also alleged that the company “set fire to” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s social media campaign before he won the 2014 election.
Last month Das apologized to Facebook employees for sharing a post on their personal Facebook page calling Indian Muslims a “degenerate community” for “nothing but purity of religion and implementation of Sharia law.” -Matter”.
The reports sparked political controversy in India, Facebook’s largest market with more than 300 million users. Last week, more than a dozen members of a parliamentary committee asked Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s top executive in India, about its content moderation policy. A separate government body is also investigating whether hate speech on Facebook sparked rioting in New Delhi earlier this year, in which more than 50 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has been scrutinized for not removing content that incites violence. Earlier this month, BuzzFeed News reported that Facebook failed to abolish an event created by the Kenosha Guard, a self-proclaimed militia, where members discussed plans to “kill looters and rioters,” despite being tagged 455 times. The site called on supporters to bring guns to an event intended to serve as counter-protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A 17-year-old is said to have shot two demonstrators at the protest.
In Myanmar, Facebook has been used to spread anti-Muslim hate speech, including calls for violence against the Rohingya minority. In 2018, Facebook admitted that it was used in Myanmar to “promote division and incite offline violence” after soldiers in the country massacred thousands of Rohingya people and forced more than 800,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. The United Nations described it as genocide.
“Moderation bias in Facebook’s Delhi office affects many South Asian markets, including hundreds of millions of users in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh,” said Dia Kayyali, program manager, technology and advocacy at Witness, a Brooklyn-based human rights nonprofit and one of the signatories of the letter, said BuzzFeed News.
Kayyali said although human rights organizations from India and South Asia incriminated the letter, concerns about the backlash from the increasingly authoritarian Indian government had deterred her from signing it. “Given the declining legal situation in the region, many organizations felt unsafe at the time to get involved publicly, especially given the warning signs of genocide,” they said.
“I don’t know what the fucking problem with Facebook is with anti-Muslim hatred,” said Beirich, who had raised the issue repeatedly with Facebook executives, including the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. “But I would only say at this point that they don’t seem to care. The needle does not move. “