Trinamool Congress writes to Mark Zuckerberg alleging “link” between Facebook and BJP, accuses of bias

Ahead of the Assembly elections of 2021 in West Bengal, the state’s ruling party Trinamool Congress has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the company of bias and pointing out “link” between the company and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This is the third letter received by Facebook on being accused of “political bias”. Trinamool Congress has said that there is enough evidence in the public domain to substantiate the allegations.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, who wrote to Facebook, has referred to raising the concerns earlier too. The Leader of the AITC Parliamentary Party, Rajya Sabha, addressed Zuckerberg in the letter stating “We the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), India’s second-largest opposition party, have had serious concerns about Facebook’s role during the 2014 and 2019 General Elections in India. After careful consideration, the AITC raised this issue in June 2019 in a forum no less than the Parliament of India. This was done during the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President’s Address.”

He added in the letter that “With the elections in the Indian state of West Bengal just months away, your company’s recent blocking of Facebook pages and accounts in Bengal also points to the link between Facebook and the BJP. There is enough material now in the public domain, including internal memos of senior Facebook management to substantiate the bias.”

O’Brien also added that he had expressed concerns on some of these issues, “in the interest of transparency, to investigate these serious charges against Facebook’s senior management in India. “Please do all it takes to urgently work towards maintaining the integrity of your platform in the Indian electoral process.”

In an earlier letter, he had mentioned about “the removal of hundreds of Trinamool Congress supporters’ pages and accounts on both Facebook and WhatsApp for community standard violations.” He alleged that various such accounts were banned in the run-up to the foundation day of the party’s youth wing on August 28.

Interestingly though, Facebook has not only received similar letters accusing it of bias from the Congress but also from the BJP. On Tuesday, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, in a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, alleged that Facebook employees “are on record abusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior cabinet ministers”.

Earlier the Congress wrote to Facebook on US media reports suggesting Facebook’s bias while handling posts from members of the BJP. In a report, the Wall Street Journal had alleged that Ankhi Das, head of public policy in Facebook India, “made internal postings over several years” on her support for the BJP.

Officials of Facebook on Wednesday are scheduled to meet a panel headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor to respond to some of the allegations.

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