‘Facebook aware of anti-Muslim content in India; took little action’

Hyderabad: Whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen told the United States (US) authorities on Tuesday that Facebook was well aware of incendiary anti-Muslim narratives being pushed on the platform in India. However, “political considerations” prevented Facebook from taking action, Haugen alleged.

The whistleblower also cited internal company documents referring to “fear-mongering content” promoted by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh users, groups and pages.

The former Facebook employee further claimed that political considerations prevented Facebook from providing a designation to this group. She referred to internal records on hateful content targeting Muslims in India.

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“There were a number of dehumanising posts comparing Muslims to ‘pigs’ and ‘dogs’ and misinformation claiming the Quran calls for men to rape their female family members,” she said citing a company document. The document allegedly stated that no action is taken against much of this content as the company lacks Hindi and Bengali classifiers or algorithms that detect hate speech.

CBS News reported that Haugen has filed eight complaints against Facebook with the US securities and exchange commission. She claimed to base her complaints on tens of thousands of documents that she secretly copied before leaving Facebook in May out of which at least four contain references to India, The Wire reported.

Haugan’s lawyer reportedly cited internal company documents to show that India is classified as a Tier-0 country. A Tier-0 country implies that the company will pay more attention to the county during important election cycles. US and Brazil are also classified in this category.

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