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Facebook says it denounces hate & bigotry on its platform, says need to do more to tackle hate speech

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Facebook said that it denounces hate and bigotry on its platform, and maintained that it has been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

“We’ve made progress on tackling hate speech on our platform, but we need to do more,” Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India wrote in a blogpost.

Last week, we shared our latest enforcement numbers, reporting that we removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech content in the second quarter of 2020 (up from just 1.6 million pieces of hate speech removed in the last quarter of 2017), he wrote .

Facebook has been under attack in India over its policies that allegedly favoured the BJP government and did not remove posts of hate speech on its platform. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing current and former Facebook employees alleged Ankhi Das, Facebook’s public policy director for India, South and Central Asia opposed applying hate speech rules to posts by BJP leader T Raja Singh and three other BJP leaders and groups flagged internally for promoting violence.

“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” he wrote. Mohan said that the company will engage with political parties on its content moderation policies.

Since then, there has been a war of words between the opposition Congress and the BJP. The Parliamentary Panel on Information Technology has called Facebook officials to depose before it on September 2 over safeguarding citizens rights and misuse of social media platforms.

“Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering. With some of our largest thriving communities in this country, we recognize our responsibility to keep our platforms to be places where people feel empowered to communicate safely,” Mohan wrote. “Our aim is to be an ally for India where our platforms preserve the pluralistic character of a democracy by offering the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things while also protecting society from broader harm.”

India has among the largest user base for Facebook, with over 346 million users, according to Statista.

“First and foremost, we want to make it clear that we denounce hate in any form. 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,” wrote Mohan

The platform claimed that its community standards, which are developed through both internal and external voices, are enforced globally.

“These policies are ever evolving to take into account the local sensitivities especially in a multicultural society such as India. An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” Mohan wrote.

Facebook claimed that it has an impartial approach around hate speech and enforces policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural belief.

“We have removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India when it violates our Community Standards,” Mohan wrote.

The WSJ report said thatFacebook removed hate content by the BJP legislator only after it flagged to the social media company.

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