The Congress on Friday wrote to Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, demanding an internal inquiry into the functioning of its India office. The party accused the social media giant of being biased towards the ruling dispensation in India.

In his letter to Zuckerberg, Congress’s social media in-charge Rohan Gupta alleged that the social media website was biased towards the saffron party despite its “proclivity of sharing hate speech”.

“We demand from Facebook that there should be an independent inquiry on the hate speech being spread through Facebook in the last two years and why Facebook reduced its budget for identifying hate speech…,” Gupta said at a press conference in New Delhi.

He alleged that Facebook was weaponised by the BJP to spread hate in India. “There is an attempt to attack the unity of our country and everyone has to understand this and fight it together,” he added.

Gupta claimed that after the Pulwama terror attack in February 2019 – orchestrated by Pakistan based-terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad – an average Facebook user in India had seen “more images of dead people in three weeks than they had seen in their lifetime”.

Gupta urged Zuckerberg to conduct an internal inquiry into the operations of Facebook India and release the findings to the public. “It is your responsibility as the head of this organisation to hold those responsible for betraying our people accountable for their actions,” he said.

The Congress’s social media in-charge alleged that Facebook used only 9% of its budget to check hate speech content.

“It has also been revealed that your [Facebook] cost-cutting approach towards hate review led to a drastic and rapid increase in such content over the last two years,” he said.

Congress’s data and technology cell chairperson Praveen Chakravarty, who was also part of the press conference in Delhi, said that the “sanctity” of Indian democracy was at stake as it was being manipulated by a company from the United States. “Are we going to accept this sort of control of our society by foreign technology companies?” Chakravarty asked.

Facebook’s algorithm problems

In October, Facebook’s internal documents accessed by Bloomberg and other American media companies showed that the social media company’s algorithm led a dummy user in India to misinformation, hate speech and violent content within just three weeks of its launch.

The social media company had created the test account in February 2019, just after the Pulwama attack, to ascertain the impact of the algorithms that determine the content that users see on the platform in India.

There were photos showing beheadings and posts claiming that 300 terrorists had died in an explosion in Pakistan, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook acknowledged that the test user’s account was “filled with polarising and graphic content, hate speech and misinformation” because of its recommendations.

On October 26, the Congress had accused Facebook of influencing elections in India through fake accounts on bots.