Facebook discrediting India’s democratic process: Ravi Shankar Prasad’s scathing letter to Mark Zuckerberg

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying there was a “concerted effort” by FB India officials to delete pages of right-of-centre ideology.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, in his letter, said “right from India MD to other senior officials, they all belong to a particular political belief”. FB is the latest tool in their arsenal to stoke internal divisions and social disturbances, the union minister added.

Ravi Shankar Prasad also said that Facebook employees are on record abusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Cabinet ministers while still working in the company and managing important positions.

The union minister said there have been “multiple instances” where Facebook was used by “anarchic and radical” elements but no meaningful action against them have been taken.

“I would like to point out that there have also been multiple instances recently where Facebook has been used by anarchic & radical elements whose sole aim is to destroy social order, to recruit people and to assemble them for violence. However, we are yet to see any meaningful action against such elements,” he said.

“I am writing this letter to raise serious concerns, some of which we have also raised in the past with senior officials of Facebook. I have often heard you and your senior management talk about the general benefits of connectivity, and more specifically in the context of your products, to the global community. Facebook’s stated mission is to give people the power to build communities and bring the world closer,” he further said.

Hitting out at the Facebook India’s top management, Ravi Shankar Prasad said he has been informed that in the run-up to 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there was a “concerted effort by Facebook India management to not just delete pages or substantially reduce their reach but also offer no recourse or right of appeal to affected people who are supportive of the right-of-centre ideology.”

“I am also aware that dozens of emails written to Facebook management received no response. The above-documented cases of bias and inaction are seemingly a direct outcome of the dominant political beliefs of individuals in your Facebook India team,” Prasad said.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, who is also the Union minister for Electronics and Information Technology and Communications, asked Facebook to not only be fair and neutral but also “visibly seen to be so”

“As a transnational digital platform, Facebook must not only be fair and neutral but also visibly seen to be so, to users of diverse beliefs and ideologies. Individuals working in any organization may have their individual likes or dislikes, but that must not have any bearing on the public policies and performance of the organization,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

Prasad said that the Facebook India managing director and other senior officials belong to a “particular political belief,” adding that people from this particular political predisposition have been overwhelmingly defeated by the people in successive free and fair elections.

“After having lost all democratic legitimacy, they are trying to discredit India’s democratic process by dominating the decision-making apparatus of important social media platforms. Facebook is the latest tool in their arsenal to stoke internal divisions and social disturbances,” Ravi Shankar Prasad said.

“It is problematic when Facebook employees are on record abusing the Prime Minister and senior Cabinet Ministers of India while still working in Facebook India and managing important positions. It is doubly problematic when the bias of individuals becomes an inherent bias of the platform. And it is unacceptable when political biases of individuals impinge on the freedom of speech of millions of people,” the Information Technology minister said.

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