India

Facebook-Supported BJP MLA Raja Singh Tries to Reduce Hyderabad to Ashes like Bengaluru?

‘Slaughter the Muslims, who kill the cows!’

‘Muslims are traitors!’

‘Raze the mosques!’

I am not saying these words. These “pearls of wisdom” are from the king of threats, hate, and anti-Muslim abuse – BJP MLA Raja Singh elected from the Gosha Mahal Legislative Assembly Constituency of Hyderabad. 

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report recently published starts with a mention of Facebook posts and public appearances where Raja Singh has reportedly said, “Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors and threatened to raze mosques”.

Another post cited is a call to “slaughter” Muslims who kill cows, an animal considered sacred to Hindus.

Facebook India turned a blind eye to hate speech by Raja Singh and three other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups” to avoid damaging the social media platform’s business prospects in its biggest market, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. Not only this, Raja Singh had the support of Facebook’s public policy executive Ankhi Das to carry out the hate campaign against Muslims. Ankhi Das is reportedly on the payroll of Raja Singh’s masters. (The lady is from the hate brigade according to insiders). 

In a 14th  August 2020 report headlined “Facebook’s Hate-Speech Rules Collide With Indian Politics”, The Wall Street Journal has quoted former and current Facebook employees who say that the aforementioned accounts, flagged for “promoting or participating in violence”, were spared a ban at the direct intervention of the company’s chief public policy executive in India, Ankhi Das.

The BJP inciter Raja Singh cited in the WSJ report has been associated with multiple provocative social media posts against Muslims for many years now. “The current and former Facebook employees said Ms. Das’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Singh is part of a broader pattern of favoritism by Facebook towards Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party and Hindu hard-liners,” the report adds.

According to the WSJ report, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone “acknowledged that Ms. Das had raised concerns about the political fallout that would result from designating Mr. Singh a dangerous individual, but said her opposition wasn’t the sole factor in the company’s decision to let Mr. (Raja) Singh remain on the platform”.

“The spokesman also said that Facebook is still considering whether a ban is warranted,” the report added, quoting Facebook as saying that Raja Singh “is no longer permitted to have an official, verified account, designated with a blue checkmark badge.

Neither Ankhi Das, Singh, nor the BJP have responded to requests for comment from the WSJ, the newspaper said, adding that the Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson declined to comment. Those caught red-handed will have nothing to say!

The WSJ report comes as global social media giants find themselves under increasing pressure to crack down on hate speech, which is routinely blamed for triggering actual violence.

The role of social media hate speech has been alleged to be a factor in the two most recent episodes of communal frenzy in India, especially, the Delhi and Bengaluru riots. In the US, Facebook’s perceived failure to control hate speech has spawned a boycott campaign involving some of the country’s top advertisers. But who has the guts to boycott Facebook in India?

The WSJ report claims that some of Raja Singh’s controversial posts were removed by Facebook after its reporters reportedly raised questions about them. Similar charges have been made about posts made by two other controversial hate-mongering BJP leaders, Kapil Mishra and MP Anantkumar Hegde, who are known for frequent uncalled for provocative remarks on social media.

It is not out of place to mention that Anantkumar Hegde even called Islam as ‘Cancer’ which must be wiped out. But Hegde is the blue-eyed boy of Narendra Modi. So, no police case will matter or even a judicial sentence for Hegde!

A February 2020 speech by Kapil Mishra, threatening vigilante action against anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters in northeast Delhi, hours before the area erupted in riots was cited or quoted by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a textbook example of hate speech. As he sought to assuage Facebook employees’ concerns about Facebook’s alleged inaction on hate speech, Zuckerberg said they had removed a video of the speech uploaded by Kapil Mishra.

The WSJ report also quotes former and current employees as saying that, by March 2020, they had decided that Raja Singh warranted the company’s “dangerous” label — a designation that reportedly also takes into account an individual’s “off-platform” activities.  Ankhi Das “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to Raja Singh and “at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups” flagged by employees for promoting violence.

“Ms. Das, whose job also includes lobbying India’s government on Facebook’s behalf, told Facebook’s staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Mr. Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country, Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users, the current and former employees said,” the WSJ report adds.

Facebook reportedly has close to 300 million users. Its chat platform WhatsApp accounts for 400 million subscribers. The company is awaiting approval from the Government of India to tap into the huge digital payments market. It is also planning to establish a much wider presence as part of its $ 5.7 billion partnership with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio!

Thankfully, Hyderabad’s Muslims have not taken a bite of the hate bullets fired by BJP MLA Raja Singh as they know that his ulterior motive is to provoke Muslims and create a riot. Bengaluru Muslims can take a lesson (if any of the protestors have resorted to violence) that violence is not the solution to provocation! Pursue the matters legally and say no to violence!

Meanwhile, K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s Government in Telangana should not allow BJP MLA Raja Singh to try and reduce Hyderabad to ashes like Bengaluru! Brand Hyderabad and Bangaru  (Golden) Telangana are really at stake!

Reliance Jio’s Mukesh Ambani should tell Facebook to allow us Indians to live peacefully – Jio aur Jine Do (Live and Let Live)!

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