Social network giant Facebook has had a rough 2020, specially within India. It has been the center of a political turmoil, wherein both sides of India’s political spectrum have criticised the company for its bias when approving political ads. Then, the platform was termed as a ‘co-accused’ by a Government panel of the state of Delhi for riots that happened in the national capital earlier this year.
Now, things have taken a turn for the worse as a legislative panel on Tuesday has issued a warning for contempt of court against Facebook. As the company’s India head Ajit Mohan failed to show up at a hearing meant to probe into the social network’s role in inciting hate that allegedly resulted in the triggering of the Delhi riots, earlier this year.
Facebook’s India Managing Director Ajit Mohan, was summoned by the Delhi State Parliament Committee to dig deeper into the allegations made against the social network’s implementation of hate speech rules and policies that provided for the spread of communal hate.
Facebook has always prided itself to be a platform that values free speech. But rigorous criticisms and debates over its policies in recent times have pushed the organization to revamp its policies and protocols that toughens down on what is to be deemed free speech and what incites hate against another individual.
The state committee chief Rajiv Chadha has informed that the panel is to provide for another date that would have Ajit Mohan appear before the committee for the commencement of the hearing. But in case the Facebook India head is unable to appear before the panel on the given date, the committee will be forced to invoke its power to initiate breach of privilege proceedings against the organization.
Even though Facebook is yet to comment on the latest development, but a letter sent to the committee head sees the company share the committee’s concerns and states measures it has taken to curb such mishaps on its website.
This entire fiasco comes off on the back of a long spread out turmoil which saw Managing Director Ajit Mohan appear before a parliamentary committee on information technology earlier this month, in a two-hour long question-answer session on Facebook’s content policies.
However, a lot of questions have been raised in recent times regarding the social network’s continued connection with Indian politics. Fingers have been raised against blatant bias towards the member of India’s ruling political party when it came to the implementation of the company’s hate speech policies, as reported extensively by the Wall Street Journal.
With things leading to a potential meltdown for the social media giants, only time will tell if order is eventually restored, or whether the line separating free speech from hate speech gets blurred even more.