In a three-page letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Ravi Shankar Prasad, India's Law and Information Technology Minister, has expressed concerns about Facebook employees abusing the Prime Minister of India. The minister asked Facebook to respect the social, religious, cultural and linguistic diversity of India, and put in place country-specific Community Guidelines.
The letter states, "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 letter highlighted that 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 organisation may have their individual likes or dislikes, but that must not have any bearing on the public policies and performance of the organisation.
"It seems from credible media reports that Facebook India team, right from the India Managing Director to other senior officials, is dominated by people who belong to a particular political belief. People from this 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," Prasad wrote.
The minister claims to have been informed in the run up to 2019 General Elections in India that 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. 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 Facebook India team.
Prasad wrote, "I would like to point out that there have also been multiple instances recently where Facebook has been used by anarchic and 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. Is this action also held back by the same vested interest groups who have an incentive in stoking political violence and instability in India?"
Recently, Facebook's Public Policy Head, Ankhi Das, has been accused of supporting BJP that resulted in benefiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi's win in 2014 General Elections.