New Delhi: Facebook India’s public policy director Ankhi Das has submitted a written complaint to the Delhi Police Cyber Cell in which she has alleged receiving a number of violent threats in the aftermath of The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article reporting an alleged BJP-Facebook ‘nexus’.
“I have been receiving violent threats to my life and body, and I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me by the accused persons,” Das’ criminal complaint reads.
The complaint, a copy of which was accessed by ThePrint, mentions some Twitter handles that allegedly sent death threats to Das, as well as some posting ‘defamatory’ comments on her pictures.
“The cyber cell is already inquiring into the matter,” DCP South Delhi, Atul Thakur, told ThePrint. No FIR, however, has been registered in the matter yet.
Das was named by the WSJ report as being allegedly responsible for protecting BJP leaders from any action, despite them violating Facebook’s hate speech rules.
“Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country…,” the WSJ report had said, quoting company employees.
A Facebook India spokesperson told ThePrint that the company will soon be releasing an official statement on Das’ complaint.
An earlier statement by the company said: “We prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence and we enforce these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation.”
‘Time for accountability will come. BJP wont rule forever’
Das’ complaint comes as the Congress has been attacking the ruling BJP government, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee be set up to probe the matter further.
— INC Sandesh (@INCSandesh) August 16, 2020
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had Sunday also hit out at the Narendra Modi government saying that the “BJP & RSS control Facebook & Whatsapp in India”.
BJP & RSS control Facebook & Whatsapp in India.
They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate.
Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook. pic.twitter.com/Y29uCQjSRP
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 16, 2020
The party launched a fresh attack Monday, with its leader Salman Anees Soz accusing Das of bigotry. “Facebook can support BJP. It can keep bigots in its ranks. But time for accountability will come. BJP will not rule forever,” he tweeted.
Ankhi Das of @Facebook shared a post that called India’s Muslims a “degenerate community”. Das wrote that the post “spoke to me”.
Facebook can support BJP. It can keep bigots in its ranks. But time for accountability will come. BJP will not rule forever. pic.twitter.com/6xKTzkgCw7
— Salman Anees Soz (@SalmanSoz) August 17, 2020
“Facebook’s inaction destabilises our democracy. More often than not, Facebook takes no action and, even worse, allows objectionable content to continue despite it being brought to its notice,” Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said in a press statement Monday.
Praveen Chakravarty, the chairperson of the Congress’ Data Analytics team has also released video statements, accusing Facebook of bias, saying it is “not limited to just one person” in the company.
“There are many others in that leadership team with a close working relationship with people in the BJP,” Chakravarty said.
The bias and alignment of the Facebook India’s leadership team with the BJP and RSS is not limited to just 1 person or their Head of Public Policy in. There are many others in that leadership team with a close working relationship with people in the BJP: Shri @pravchak pic.twitter.com/jCTy9mRgRb
— Congress (@INCIndia) August 17, 2020
Congress, Left curtailing free speech: BJP
The BJP, however, hasn’t taken the Congress’ allegations lying down.
Party leader and former minister of state for information and broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, in an opinion piece in The Indian Express Monday, came to the party’s defence — accusing the Congress and the Left of curtailing free speech.
In the piece, titled Facebook is in the dock; we need to resist Left-Congress assault on free speech, Rathore has accused the social media company of “funding and validating “eminent journalists” belonging to the “pro-Left cabal” and empowering them to become “the arbiters of truth on Facebook”.
“This latest round of manufactured outrage should be seen as the Left’s internecine warfare to control an already-Congress and Left-leaning platform and punish them for even the most minor of thought crimes — allowing alternative viewpoints,” Rathore further says in the column.
Law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had earlier reacted to Gandhi’s accusations tweeting, “Losers who cannot influence people even in their own party keep cribbing that the entire world is controlled by BJP & RSS”.
Losers who cannot influence people even in their own party keep cribbing that the entire world is controlled by BJP & RSS.
You were caught red-handed in alliance with Cambridge Analytica & Facebook to weaponise data before the elections & now have the gall to question us? https://t.co/NloUF2WZVY
— Ravi Shankar Prasad (@rsprasad) August 16, 2020
Amit Malviya, the BJP IT cell incharge, had gone a step ahead and demanded an expose on the “Congress- Facebook alliance”.
In a tweet, sharing an old speech by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Malviya accused Facebook of allowing the live streaming of her speech, which he alleged “led to death and destruction in Delhi”.
Congress is worried about Facebook giving hate speech free pass. They should be.
Sonia Gandhi’s hate speech streamed live on INC India’s Facebook page, which led to death and destruction in Delhi, should be the starting point.
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) August 16, 2020
(With inputs from Aneesha Bedi)