Threat to life, alleges Facebook employee amid hate speech row
An employee of Facebook approached Delhi Police alleging threat to her life, days after a report in a foreign publication claimed that the social media giant does little to control hate speech by BJP leaders, triggering a political war of words. The woman, in her 40s, said she received threats online and wanted the five persons, she named in the complaint, arrested.
In her complaint, filed on Sunday, the victim claimed the report on hate speech led to this situation. "The above threats are in relation to an article dated 14 August 2020 published in The Wall Street Journal and further published in a mischaracterized and distorted manner in India by various publications and further widely circulated on social media, (sic)" the complaint read.
Perpetrators using her photograph, allegedly making sexually-colored remarks
The victim said she has been at the receiving end of threats since August 14 and that the targeted harassment has disturbed her. "The content, which even includes my photograph is evidently threatening to my life and body. I fear for my safety as well as that of my family members," she added. She claimed the accused made sexually-colored remarks and tried intimidating her.
"Perpetrators spreading misinformation and inciting violence against me"
"I am under constant fear and threat, especially being a woman. The perpetrators are deliberately operating through online accounts to hide their identity and to further spread misinformation and incite violence against me to meet their agenda," the victim went on.
Police registered FIR under relevant sections, probe underway
On the basis of her complaint, an FIR was registered under Section 354A, 499/500, 506, 507, 509 of Indian Penal Code. The five persons named in the FIR include a woman as well as two people with Facebook profiles as Himanshu Deshmukh and Awesh Tiwari. Police said the process of identifying and tracing the accused is underway.
Facebook favors BJP, claimed WSJ report
Notably, WSJ had reported that Facebook looks the other way when it comes to hate speech promoted by BJP leaders. According to an executive of the social media giant, the company is apprehensive that BJP workers "would damage their business prospects in the country" if they are rebuked. Quoting people in the know, WSJ said Facebook has a "broader pattern of favoritism" towards BJP.
Congress was quick to slam BJP using the report
Subsequently, Congress' Rahul Gandhi also slammed BJP claiming that it controlled Facebook and WhatsApp in the country. "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," Gandhi tweeted. However, reminding him of the Cambridge Analytica episode, BJP suggested against pointing fingers at them.
Facing criticism, Facebook said political parties don't impact its rules
Meanwhile, Facebook rejected the allegations saying it acted against hate speech impartially. "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. While we know there is more to do, we're making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy," a spokesperson said.