The Opposition INDIA alliance has written to social media conglomerates Meta and Alphabet, objecting to their alleged role in abetting social disharmony in India.
The alliance wrote separately to Meta Chief Executive Officers Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday. While Meta owns social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, Alphabet is the parent company of Google and YouTube.
The Opposition alliance addressed the letters, written by Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, to the two companies after The Washington Post alleged in an editorial published on October 8 that social media platforms in India have “become conveyor belts for hate” under Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The letter to Meta on Wednesday accused the company of being culpable of inciting communal hatred in India. “Further, we have data that shows algorithmic moderation and suppression of Opposition leaders’ content on your platform while also promoting ruling party content,” it alleged.
The INDIA alliance added: “Such blatant partisanship and bias towards one political formation by a private foreign company is tantamount to interfering in India’s democracy, one that we in the INDIA alliance will not take lightly.”
The coalition urged Zuckerberg to ensure that Meta’s operations in India remain neutral in the light of the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
The letter also took note of an article published by The Washington Post on September 26 titled “Under India’s pressure, Facebook let propaganda and hate speech thrive”.
The article said that nearly three years earlier, a Facebook team had alleged that the Indian Army’s Chinar Corps was behind a huge social media operation that used hundreds of fake accounts to praise a crackdown by security forces in Kashmir and accuse Kashmiri journalists of separatism and sedition.
However, the article said that Facebook executives in New Delhi pushed back against attempts to delete the pages used in the operation, saying they did not want to risk antagonising the Indian government.
“Those objections staved off action for a full year while the Indian Army unit continued to spread disinformation that put Kashmiri journalists in danger,” the article said.
In a similar letter addressed to Pichai, the INDIA alliance referred to an article in The Washington Post titled “He live-streamed his attacks on Indian Muslims. YouTube gave him an award”.
The article described the “emerging phenomenon of cow vigilante streamers”, focusing in particular on Bajrang Dal member and double murder accused Monu Manesar. “Last October, Manesar received a ‘Silver Creator’ award from YouTube for reaching 100,00 subscribers and posed with his plaque next to a cow,” the article noted.
The INDIA alliance said the article provides details of how this “vile, communally divisive propaganda is carried out using YouTube by BJP members and supporters”.
However, in the two letters, the coalition said it was confident that Meta and Alphabet “also yearn for a harmonious India that the Mahatma wished for”.