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‘Facebook ex-employees flagged bias issue to management but were ignored,’ says MP Mahua Moitra

Mahua Moitra
Source: @MahuaMoitra/Twitter

Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra on Tuesday claimed that former Facebook employees had raised issues of bias with the company’s leadership as far back as 2018, but were ignored. Moitra, who is also a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT, said in a video posted on her Twitter account that said former employees had recently reached out to the panel informally. She said these employees had raised the concerns in Facebook’s internal Q&A sessions, but “nothing was done about it”.

The Trinamool Congress MP called the allegations against Facebook mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article — that the social media giant refused to take down hate posts made by ruling party members for fear that it would harm its business prospects in India — “distressing”. 

‘Did Zuckerberg know about Indian arm’s activities?’ asks Moitra

Moitra asked if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and senior management knew about the actions of the company’s Indian arm. “Do they condone the activities of Facebook India’s public affairs head in not acting upon this very serious red flag as back as in 2018?” she asked. Moitra wondered why Facebook was following “two different standards in the US and outside when it comes to situations like this”. 

“These hate-filled posts have led to incidents of loss of life, loss of property, looting, arson and communal violence all over India in the last three years, or even more. And, very little has been done to stop this,” Moitra said in the video.

Moitra said that Facebook had a lot to be accountable for to both the Committee as well as the Indian public. “Do Facebook shareholders condone the company’s behaviour which is violating both US law, Indian law and completely goes against every standard operating protocol [sic] the company follows in the US when it comes to India?” she asked. 

Moitra isn’t the only Trinamool Congress MP to have raised concerns about Facebook. In June 2019, Derek O’Brien had referred to Facebook as a “hidden partner” of the NDA government in the Rajya Sabha. O’Brien quoted from the book “The Real Face of Facebook in India” by Cyril Sam and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and said said, “Facebook senior management in India are de-facto campaign managers for the BJP. Facebook’s Delhi office is virtually an extended BJP IT cell — and I am saying this with all responsibility.” O’Brien had also said that Facebook’s algorithm censors anti-BJP news, putting other parties in jeopardy.

Read more: Facebook accused of selective enforcement of hate speech rules

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