Washington, D.C., November 06 (KMS): Whistle-blower Frances Haugen has thrust Facebook under international scrutiny with her testimony, revealing the media giant’s direct role in facilitating anti-minority violence worldwide.
In a Congressional briefing, experts discussed the way Hindu supremacists in India have thrived off Facebook and its related platforms, using social media to make anti-minority hatred mainstream.
“The Facebook paper confirms what we have been saying for a long time in terms of the harm the social media platform is doing to Muslims, Dalits, women and refugees,” said Meetali Jain, Deputy Director of Reset.Tech with two decades of experience as a lawyer, academician, and campaigner. “Politicians and celebrities can share hateful content with impunity. There is inadequate attention and lack of investment by Facebook in India to address these issues.”
“Social media and online platforms share responsibility… for physical violence and even murder,” said Rohit Chopra, Associate Professor specializing in global and postcolonial media at Santa Clara University. “It is not hyperbole to say that in the Indian context, social media platforms already have blood on their hands.”
“The use of Whatsapp is behind almost each and every hate crime that has happened in India over the last few years,” said Paranjoy Thakurta, veteran journalist and co-author of The Real Face of Facebook in India. “Whatsapp is being used for criminal offenses. Some of the top executive officials of Facebook’s India team are very close to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and top officials in the government. [Young people in India] have been fed and indoctrinated on Facebook propaganda.”
Dr. Ritumbra Manuvie, a Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Foundation London Story, who has conducted empirical investigations into the effect of misinformation and hate speech on societies worldwide, stated that Facebook’s India platforms are awash with content that is both hateful and widely shared. There are dozens of live posts, with over millions of views, which remain in circulation on the platform despite flagrantly violating community standards. One popular post she discovered read, “In the world, places where Quran or Hadith are being taught should be shut down,” while a widely posted video shows a Hindu supremacist leader announcing, “My only goal in life is to exterminate Islam and kill Muslims.” The reactions are filled with likes, hearts, and laughing emojis. Neither post has been taken down by Facebook.
Samina Salim, Associate Professor at the University of Houston, stated that India has moved away from its pluralistic roots, normalizing open anti-Muslim and anti-minority hate speech. “India operates on hate,” she said. “This is not a problem that can be solved by ignoring it. We need policy interventions and international pressure. Lynching after lynching, pogrom after pogrom… this is no accident. This is deliberate.”
The briefing was co-hosted by 16 organizations, including Amnesty International USA, 21Wilberforce, Hindus for Human Rights, Indian American Muslim Council, International Christian Concern, Jubilee Campaign, Dalit Solidarity Forum, New York State Council of Churches, Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America, India Civil Watch International, Students Against Hindutva Ideology, Center for Pluralism, American Muslim Institution, International Society for Peace and Justice, Association of Indian Muslims of America, and the Humanism Project (Australia).