Row Over ‘Who Controls Facebook In India’
India is the leading country for Facebook in audience size with more than 38 crore users on Facebook.
A Wall Street Journal article on the alleged clout of the Indian government over Facebook has opened another head to head battle between Congress and BJP. Former president of Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, has raised the issue in Twitter sharing the article a few days back. Rahul mentioned the hidden cahoot of the government in controlling Facebook and WhatsApp. He alleged that BJP and its affiliate Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are spreading fake news to influence the electorate through these mediums.
The Wall Street Journal article claimed that Facebook ignored the alleged hate speech of BJP members. They pointed out the hate speeches of a state assembly member from Telangana and three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups which were flagged internally for the hate speeches in the platform. However, a top official of the company in India warned Facebook that any kind of action against these persons would damage the company’s business possibilities in the country.
Shashi Tharoor, MP and a member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, retweeted Rahul Gandhi’s tweet quoting that he wishes to hear from Facebook about these reports and what they propose to do about hate-speech in India. A congress team led by its social media head, Rohan Gupta, had met the Facebook India officials in May citing the bias they have towards BJP. He said that they did nothing on their complaint.
However, the BJP hit back at the Congress with the same intensity. Union Minister for Information Technology and Communications, Ravi Shankar Prasad was the first one to retaliate with the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the Congress allegedly involved.
Surprisingly, Kapil Mishra, whose speech was mentioned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as an example of incitement of violence, had also attacked Congress citing that the party blackmailing Facebook to hide some serious crimes.
While coming to the mainstream media, A New York Times report in April explains how the Modi rule restraining the mainstream media. The report mentioned the ban faced by two Kerala channels for covering the Delhi riot, which the Information and Broadcasting Ministry found improper. The Modi government has also tried to restrict the media from reporting against the government in the lockdown period
All these elements are the omens of an imminent situation of vanishing the fourth pillar from the concept of ‘pillars of democracy. The ‘free media concept’ in the country would be a camouflaged reality wrapped up in the saffron hands.