The Delhi Assembly’s Committee on Peace and Harmony on August 31, Monday decided to summon Facebook officials in its next meeting following incriminating evidence by witnesses of the social media giant’s complicity in aggravating Delhi riots.
The committee talked to three journalists; Awesh Tiwari, Kunal Purohit and Subhash Gatade all of whom argued with compelling evidence that Facebook should be impleaded as an accused in the Delhi riots investigation.
The committee first talked to Chhattisgarh journalist Tiwari who said the committee should conduct a probe to determine Facebook’s culpability in perpetrating not only the Delhi Riots but also all communal riots over past few years. Moreover, he alleged that the platform has long sheltered hate towards minority communities. The company essentially refuses to take down the hateful content from its platform yet deliberately lowers the visibility of content that promotes unity amongst communities, said Tiwari.
He further claimed that there was a larger conspiracy to sabotage Delhi’s free and fair election by developing such anti-Muslim narratives. Tiwari also alleged a strong nexus between Ms. Ankhi Das, against whom he had filed an FIR, and the ruling dispensation.
He pointed out that while Facebook played a major role in containing hate during the Black Lives Matter Movement, it did little when confronted with similar situations in India. Facebook chose to flagrantly ignore its guidelines.
Similarly, second witness Kunal Purohit said that Facebook fails to apply its community standard policies to content posted by the ruling party due to commercial transactions and rapid collaboration between the two entities. He pointed out that the current ruling dispensation is the highest spender on advertisements on the platform. He also asserted that the anti-Muslim hate instigated prior to Delhi riots on WhatsApp was premeditated.
He further alleged with credible material that Facebook Inc. collaborated with non-accredited online news platforms to flagrantly spread provocative and inflammatory material. It has also been pointed out by the witness that the aforesaid material is still available on the Facebook group.
All the witnesses unanimously claimed that the alleged complicity of Facebook has the mischievous distinction to hijack Indian democracy. They said that given the nature of serious allegations against the Facebook officials there’s a direct conflict of interest in letting them hold such sensitive positions. They also deposed that the alleged collaboration led to motivated and selective regulation of content, thus violating the Freedom of speech and expression.
The committee had earlier called upon other expert witnesses which have deposed before the committee and have contributed some invaluable insights.