Hours after being banned from Facebook for violating its hate speech policies, Bharatiya Janata Party’s MLA from Telangana, T Raja Singh, on Thursday claimed he has not had an account on the social media platform since April 2019, PTI reported. Singh added that his followers may have created the pages the social networking platform had taken down.
The controversy first emerged after The Wall Street Journal first reported on August 14 that Facebook’s India policy head Ankhi Das had opposed the idea of removing incendiary posts by Singh, who had called Muslims traitors and also wrote that Rohingya refugees in India should be shot. Other BJP leaders’ posts were deleted from the platform after the newspaper approached them for a response to the article.
Singh on Thursday said he had written to the Hyderabad Police Cyber Crime department on October 8, 2018, that his verified Facebook page was hacked. He added that he started a new page that was “unpublished/deleted in April 2019”. “So, Since April 2019, I’m not on Facebook itself, so no question of banning [me],” he said. “Is Facebook working under the pressure of Congress?”
Singh said he will write to Facebook for an official account and added that he will follow all the rules and regulations. “I should be given the right to use Facebook account and I will seek their permission,” he said, according to NDTV.
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In a video statement, the BJP MLA claimed that politicians like Rahul Gandhi have made false remarks on social media against his party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Singh called for the removal of accounts belonging to the Congress and the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen after a thorough research.
On Thursday, Singh was reportedly designated under Facebook’s dangerous individuals and organisations policy and will no longer be allowed to be present on the platform.
The social media platform has been drawing flak for showing bias in regulating its political content. The Congress wrote two letters, asking for details of the steps the platform took to investigate the hate speech allegations.
The company on Thursday responded to the political party, saying that it is a “non-partisan platform” that is opposed to any form of hate and bigotry. “We are non-partisan and strive to ensure that out platform remains a space where people can express themselves freely,” Facebook’s Public Policy, Trust and Safety Director Neil Potts said in the letter.
On Wednesday, Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology in connection with the hate speech allegations. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who is the chairperson of the parliamentary panel, had said that the discussions with Facebook representatives will continue.