Facebook Public Policy Director Shivnath Thukral informed the Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee on Thursday that it had partnerships with 10 fact-checkers who monitor fake news in only 11 of the 20 languages available in Facebook India.
The Delhi Assembly’s committee is conducting an inquiry into the communal violence that took place in the national capital in February 2020.
“We have 10 fact-checking partners across India,” Thukral told the committee.
On being questioned whether they had a cogent fact-checking infrastructure for India, Thukral replied: “We don’t own it. We are not the arbiters of truth, but we have 10 fact-checking partners in India. All of them are certified by the International Fact Checking Network and they cover 11 languages in the country.”
Thukral then informed the committee that Facebook currently hosts users in 20 languages in India.
The committee also asked him how many fact-checking partners were there in February 2020, when the violence in Delhi took place. Thukral estimated it to be around eight to nine, but told the committee that he will have to get back on this.
Raghav Chadha, the chairperson of the committee, has asked Thukral if he could provide a list of fact-checking exercises undertaken by these partners from January 1, 2020 to April 1, 2020.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower, has accused Facebook’s safety teams of being under-resourced. “Facebook has been unwilling to accept even little slivers of profit being sacrificed for safety,” she said in a testimony before the United Kingdom Parliament.
Fifty-three people, mostly Muslims, had died after clashes broke about between supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it. The Act had triggered protests across the country as it introduced religious criteria for Indian citizenship for the first time.
After the clashes, allegations had emerged that Facebook’s laxity in implementing hate speech rules and policies on the social media platform had contributed to the violence.