Facebook India on Friday asserted that it is an “open, transparent and non-partisan platform” which denounces hate and bigotry in any form. The social media platform’s India head Ajit Mohan said the company will eliminate content even from Indian public figures if they violate its “community standards” as there is “no place for hate speech” on it.
This came amid a controversy over how the social media giant regulates political content, after a report by The Wall Street Journal claimed that Facebook had chosen to ignore hate speech made by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on its platform. The report alleged Facebook India’s head of public policy, Ankhi Das, “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP even though they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.
In a statement titled “We are open, transparent and non-partisan”, Mohan said the company has taken these allegations “incredibly seriously”. “First and foremost, we want to make it clear that we denounce hate in any form,” he added. “Our Community Standards, which outline what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook, have clear and very detailed policies against hate speech, which prohibit attacks on people on the basis of protected characteristics, including religion, ethnicity, caste and national origin.”
The company claimed to have removed hateful content by Indian public figures in the past and said it will continue to do so. “We enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural belief,” the statement said.
Mohan added that individuals who are designated as “dangerous” under Facebook’s policies are removed from its services altogether, and “praise, support and representation of them is taken down, as well”.
The statement said the decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person, but are inclusive of views from different teams and disciplines within the company. “The process comes with robust checks and balances built in to ensure that the policies are implemented as they are intended to be and take into consideration applicable local laws,” it added.
Facebook claimed it has made “significant progress” in removing hate speech and other harmful content over the past few years, but added that the “work is still not over”. The company said the process is “dynamic and ongoing” based on newly available information or activity.
Mohan said Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering, adding that the company recognises its “responsibility to keep our platforms to be places where people feel empowered to communicate safely”.