During the Delhi Assembly’s committee on Peace and Harmony hearing, former Facebook employee Mark Luckie made critical remarks about Facebook role in Delhi riots in February 2020.
Mark said that Delhi riots could be avoided if Facebook had acted in time and that it can’t trusted with self-regulation. He was examined by AAP MLA Raghav Chadha.
Mark S. Luckie is a digital strategist, former journalist, and author of “The Digital Journalist’s Handbook,” “DO U.” and the upcoming novel “Valley Girls.”
In August 2020, Wall Street Journal report showed that Ankhi Das had protected at least three BJP politicians from hate speech community guidelines for their Facebook posts, which included incitement of violence and derogatory posts about Muslims. Das argued that punishing members of Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country. After that, her ties to the BJP were explored, revealing that her sister is a long-time member of RSS-affiliated organizations, and that Ankhi Das had led a partnership between Facebook and the Election Commission.
After the Wall Street Report, the Committee on Peace and Harmony announced that it will be summoning officials of Facebook, including Ankhi Das, in relation to their alleged deliberate and intentional inaction to contain hateful content in India for vested reasons.
A report by a Fact-Finding Committee on the North-East Delhi Riots of February 2020 constituted by the Delhi Minorities Commission had identified BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s speech about forcefully removing anti-CAA protesters from Jafrabad as the trigger for the anti-Muslim violence by Hindu mobs. However, Kapil Mishra is one of at least 3 BJP leaders, who were protected from Facebook’s hate speech rules by Ankhi Das, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. The report had revealed close ties between Ankhi Das, the current Policy Director of Facebook India, and the BJP-RSS.
As part of the Peace and Harmony committee, Mark Luckie, former Facebook employee deposited before the Delhi Assembly.
"FB actively interferes in what people see & dont see. It influence & aid a lot of these violence & misinformation to continue on the platform."
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 12, 2020
Luckie said it was true that Facebook was profiting off of hate. PTI quoted Luckie, who is based out of Atlanta in the US, as saying, “Facebook would like the world to believe that it is politically agnostic to maintain a safe image, however, it isn’t as agnostic as it claims to be.”
"Unfortunately, hateful & divisive content often has the most shares, likes or comments which are the metrics that FB uses…Yes, FB is profiting off of hate."
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) November 12, 2020
Luckie said that there were gross compromises in implementing community guidelines and that the executive team of the social media giant, including its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, were “generally aware of such gross inaction and misappropriation” of the community standards and other policies of the company, the statement said.
“Facebook actively interferes in what people see and dont see. It influences and aids a lot of these violence & misinformation to continue on the platform,” he said.
ANI quoted a statement from the Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee as saying, “He (Mark S Luckie) also asserted the events like Delhi communal clashes, Myanmar genocide and Sri Lanka communal violence could have been easily averted had Facebook acted in a more proactive and prompt manner.”
“Facebook has tie-ups with non-accredited news channels whose only aim is to produce content that deepens fault lines. The content that is harmonious in nature and promotes brotherhood is removed by Facebook and one that gives rise to communal disharmony is promoted,”
The issue of Facebook’s bias towards the BJP has been raised on multiple occasions, including by Derek O’Brien in Parliament. Especially critiqued has been the role of Facebook and Whatsapp in spreading fake news and hate speech that has led to multiple instances of violence.