In a “tense video call” with 25,000 Facebook employees on the controversy over United States President Donald Trump’s recent statements on the social media website, founder Mark Zuckerberg referred to a case in India of a leader threatening to take the law into his own hands as a “clear precedent” of incitement of violence, reported Recode.
Although he did not name the Indian official in question, Zuckerberg’s reference seemed similar to the comments made by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kapil Mishra, who gave an ultimatum to the Delhi Police to clear roads of peaceful protesters in February, failing which his supporters would take up the task. Soon after Mishra’s speech – which was also posted on social networks on his account – violence broke out in the Indian Capital, leading to the worst riots since the 1984 violence and at least 53 dead.
Here is what Zuckerberg said, according to a transcript of the leaked audio on Recode:
“You know, if somebody is actually going to encourage violence, I think in general, you just — you just don’t want that content up. But our policies around incitement of violence, you know, have pretty — have some clear precedents right around if people have to be calling for violence or targeting specific individuals. There have been examples of government officials around the world, we’ve taken them down...
And there have been cases in India, for example, where someone said, “Hey, if the police don’t take care of this, our supporters will get in there and clear the streets.” That is kind of encouraging supporters to go do that in a more direct way, and we took that down. So we have a precedent for that.”
And this is what Kapil Mishra – who, in January, had to take down an inflammatory tweet after the Election Commission ordered him to – had said in his “ultimatum”, which was posted to various social media channels:
“Delhi Police ko teen din ka ultimatum – Jaffrabad aur Chand Bagh ki sadke khali karvaiye iske baad humein mat samajhaiye, hum aapka bhi nahin sunenge, sirf teen din.”
Three days’ ultimatum to Delhi Police – clear out the streets of Jaffrabad and Chand Bagh, after that don’t try to reason with us, we won’t listen to you also, just three days.”
The Facebook CEO was speaking in the context of recent comments from US President Donald Trump, whose administration is struggling to deal with civil unrest after the police killing of an unarmed black man named George Floyd.
Social media giant Twitter had put a warning on a tweet from Trump, which the company said had glorified violence. The same message from Trump was also posted on Facebook, but Zuckerberg’s company decided not to put a warning on it or take down the post.
“We basically concluded after the research and after everything I’ve read and all the different folks that I’ve talked to, that that reference is clearly to aggressive policing – maybe excessive policing – but has no history of being read as a dog whistle for vigilante supporters to take justice into their own hands,” Zuckerberg said, according to the transcript.