The Delhi Legislative committee on Peace and Harmony has found Facebook to be prima facie guilty of a role in the violence that took place in Delhi in February.
“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,”
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.
The Delhi government had constituted the Peace and Harmony Committee in March, in the wake of the pogrom. The Committee included Saurabh Bhardwaj, Atishi, Raghav Chadha, Abdul Rehman, Ajay Kumar Mahawar, BS Joon, Dilip Pandey, Jamail Singh, and Kuldeep Kumar.
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. On August 25, the Committee spoke to two journalists to examine the role Facebook played in the Delhi Violence. The committee talked to Paranjoy Thakurta, co-author of ‘The Real Face of Facebook in India’, who pointed out that over the last 6-7 years, almost each and every instance of mob-lynching in India have had behind them a Whatsapp message or Facebook post, but Facebook refuses to disclose the identity of the original poster, citing end-to-end encryption, free speech, and privacy.
In a press conference, Raghav Chadha on behalf of the committee demanded that Facebook be treated as a co-accused in the case, as it hosted “incriminating material” despite receiving complaints from users. He said, “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,”