Under fire for not cracking down on hate speech by BJP leaders on its network, Facebook on Thursday banned Telangana BJP MLA Raja Singh from its platform. A spokesperson said he had violated Facebook’s policies against promoting or engaging in violence and hate. The social media major also claimed the ban was in step with its extensive process to evaluate potential violators. Facebook has been under immense pressure for not handling such content. Recently, the Wall Street Journal had done an expose based on inputs from anonymous insiders who claimed Facebook India executive Ankhi Das had intervened internally to evade a permanent ban on Raja Singh, citing damage to its business prospects in India. Das had filed cases against some social media users for harassing her after the WSJ report came to light.
Singh, the MLA from Goshamahal in Hyderabad Old City, had put out a video disowning any such content under his name on Facebook. He claimed his officialFB account had been hacked and then blocked in 2018. Singh insisted he had just a YouTube and aTwitter account. He distanced himself from pages on Facebook operating under his name and said they were not his responsibility.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who heads the standing committee on information technology, had summoned Facebook India officials to answer the claims made inthe WSJ article. They deposed yesterday and answered questions relating to political bias. Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written to Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg dismissing the WSJ claims as a battle of ideologies within the organisation.
The Congress and its former president Rahul Gandhi had demanded investigation into the claims against Facebook and the party had called for a joint parliamentary probe into it.The WSJ had also carried another report on Das’s support for the BJP and her disparaging of the Congress party. Facebook had denied any bias on Das’s part.