Will continue to remove hateful content: Facebook assures Congress

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Facebook assured the Congress party on Thursday that it will continue to remove hateful content by public figures in India on its platform and explained how its decisions on these issues are not taken unilaterally but through a collective decision involving different views from teams around the company.

Also read: Facebook bans BJP legislator amid raging controversy over hate speech bias

In a mail to Congress general secretary in charge of the organisation, K C Venugopal, the social media company’s public policy director, Neil Potts, based in its headquarter at Menlo Park, California, said, “On the question of hateful content by public figures, we want to assure you that our Community Standards prohibit attacks against people based on their protected characteristics, including religion, caste, ethnicity, and national origin. In line with our hate speech policy, we have removed and will continue to remove hateful content by public figures in India on our platforms.”

Venugopal had shot a letter last month to Facebook in the wake of the Wall Street Journal report that the social media giant’s key public-policy executive in India, Ankhi Das, didn’t allow pulling down a hate-filled post of a BJP leader.

In its reply to the Congress, Potts said, “We are non-partisan and strive to ensure that our platforms remain a space where people can express themselves freely. We take allegations of bias seriously and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in all forms.”

He continued to explain that as part of Facebook’s policy development process, “we consult a community of external voices, including civil society organizations, academics, and subject experts. We also rely extensively on inputs from a broad cross-section of internal teams who understand both local and global contexts in the enforcement of our policies on hate speech and dangerous organizations and individuals.”

“We have a team with deep expertise on terrorism and organized hate, who pay attention to global and regional trends and advise on these matters. These decisions are not made unilaterally by any one person; rather, they are inclusive of different views from teams around the company, a process that is critical to making sure we consider, understand, and account for both the local and global contexts,” the director said.

The letter also cited that the latest Transparency Report showed how Facebook took action against violating content across its platforms. “We removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech content from April-June in 2020, up from 1.6 million pieces of hate speech content removed in the last quarter of 2017. We know there is much more to do and will continue to invest our efforts to combat hate speech on our services,” the letter said.

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