Facebook on Thursday said that it is proactively working to prohibit hate speech and content that incites violence in the country. The declaration comes after whistleblower Frances Haugen accused Facebook of not taking action on fear-mongering and hate content related to India because of "the lack of Hindi and Bengali classifiers".
Even before people reported it, Facebook has been investing significantly in technology that proactively detects hate speech, a Facebook spokesperson said.
"We now use this technology to proactively detect violating content in Hindi and Bengali, alongside over 40 languages globally," the spokesperson added."
"In addition, we have a team of content reviewers covering 20 Indian languages. As hate speech against marginalised groups, including Muslims, continues to be on the rise globally, we continue to make progress on enforcement and are committed to updating our policies as hate speech evolves online," the spokesperson added.
As per the complaint filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), "RSS Users, Groups, and Pages promote fear-mongering, anti-Muslim narratives targeted pro-Hindu populations with V&I (violence and inciting) intent".
There was a problem of "lack of Hindi and Bengali classifiers" to flag off such harmful content, as shown by Facebook's internal records, reads the complaint by Haugen.
Classifiers are automated systems and algorithms that are designed to detect hate speech in content on the social media platform.
"There were a number of dehumanising posts (on) Muslims Our lack of Hindu and Bengali classifiers means much of this content is never flagged or actioned, and we have yet to put forth a nomination for designation of this group (RSS) given political sensitivities," the complaint read.
Right-wing organisations BJP and RSS are yet to comment on the revelations. This is not the first time Facebook has faced allegations of inaction against hate content in the country.
A Parliament Standing Committee on Information Technology (I&T) had issued summons to Facebook and Twitter officials in January to question them over misuse of social media or online news platforms. The committee also accused the platform of political bias and questioned Facebook India head Ajit Mohan on the same.
In August 2020, The Wall Street Journal had reported of Facebook's bias towards the BJP. It further claimed that Ankhi Das, Facebook's then India Policy Head, had opposed removing hate posts by BJP leaders as it could hamper their commercial interests. He later quit Facebook.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has slammed that the recent claims by an ex-employee on Facebook's negative effects on society "don't make any sense". He clarified his take in a note to employees.