There are significant cultural and other differences between the United States and India, but one feature seems to unite them seamlessly: the inability (at least as reflected in media and among campaigners and activists of various persuasions) to reach political consensus on whether Facebook is implementing too much – or too little censorship?
And just like in the US, in India, too, accusations that Facebook needs to step up its censorship game are coming from the left, while those telling opposite ideological beliefs say their speech on the global social network is already muzzled to an unacceptable degree.
One, but not insignificant difference, is the way this dissatisfaction is expressed against Facebook’s representatives: in India, Reuters said, Ankhi Das, a top exec with the giant, has had to formally turn to the police with a criminal complaint against those making death threats against her. They accuse Das and the platform of allegedly giving a leg-up to the ruling BJP party, led by the country’s prime minister.
The case against Das and Facebook is that “hate speech” coming from BJP supporters is not being removed, just as we see from the left in the US and Europe.
Facebook is meanwhile denying the accusations of exhibiting political bias in India – not only those coming from the left, but also those simultaneously voiced by the right, including the BJP, who say their nationalist voices are the ones censored on the platform.
OpIndia presents this side of the row, saying that the perception of Facebook favoring the prime minister’s party is false, and a result of local liberals “joining forces” with what’s referred to as “WSJ propagandists.”
This report finds evidence that if any, Facebook has a pro-left bias that is evident in its own guidelines used as the basis for moderation and censorship, especially on issues like hate speech and gender identity.
In addition, says OpIndia, Facebook took down as many as 687 pages with links to the Indian National Congress ahead of the 2019 India elections, also targeting BJP pages – which, the article warns, amounts to involvement in “electoral malpractice.”