No ban needed for Bajrang Dal content, Facebook tells IT panel

Facebook India's MD Ajit Mohan told the panel that the company's fact-checking team found no evidence in Bajrang Dal’s contents on Facebook which could violate the company's policy
No ban needed for Bajrang Dal content, Facebook tells IT panel
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Facebook India’s Managing Director and Vice President Ajit Mohan told the Shashi Tharoor led parliamentary panel that the social media company has found no reason for banning Bajrang Dal, a Hindu right-wing group, from the social media platform.

The parliamentary standing committee on information technology had summoned the Facebook India head to discuss data safety of Indian users. During the parliamentary hearing, Congress MP Karti Chidambaram brought up the recently published Wall Street Journal report which pointed out that Facebook went soft on Bajrang Dal and resisted evicting the Hindu right-wing outfit from its platform, fearing attacks on Facebook India staff and business prospects in India being hurt.

When the panel asked about the WSJ report, Mohan replied that the company's fact-checking team found no evidence in Bajrang Dal’s contents on Facebook which could violate the company's policy. Therefore, there was need to ban Bajrang Dal from the platform. According to reports, when the panel asked Mohan why didn’t he or Facebook deny or try to correct WSJ’s report if the company did not find Bajrang Dal’s contest as a violation of its policy, which the Facebook India head did not have a response.

In August, the WSJ released a report where it pointed out Facebook did not ban BJP leaders like T Raja Singh despite making many hate speeches which could result in “real-world violence”. According to the report, former Facebook policy director in India Ankhi Das refused to impose Facebook’s hate-speech rules to Raja Singh and other Hindu nationalist groups and individuals who were promoting violence. It was Das who said that putting violations against BJP’s leaders “would damage the company’s business prospects in India”. WSJ also alleged that Das was a BJP and Narendra Modi supported and was biased towards them while criticizing opposition parties on internal messages. Facebook denied claims of being in favour of any political party.

In September, the Tharoor-led panel grilled Facebook officials over the political bias allegation that were raised against the company. The first meeting was adjourned without any conclusion.

In October, Das resigned from her position. “Das has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service,” Mohan said in a statement.

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