New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) The Congress on Monday once again targeted the Narendra Modi government alleging its nexus with Facebook and WhatsApp, and demanded a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and a criminal investigation against the company’s executives in India. The party said the interference by the social media giant ‘is an assault on India’s electoral democracy’.
Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “Congress demands for a JPC investigation immediately; a criminal investigation into the affairs of Facebook India and the people named; all pending approvals and licenses for Facebook and WhatsApp to be put on hold until the investigations are completed; suspension of Facebook India’s leadership team with immediate effect until the conclusion of the investigations.”
He also demanded an inquiry by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology into the activities of all the Heads of Public Policy teams of foreign technology companies operating in India. A demand for establishing a code of conduct was also made by Chowdhury.
The Congress MP’s remarks came a day after another news article over the Facebook and WhatsApp role in India’s electoral process.
Chowdhury said that the latest expose of Facebook’s interference reveals an assault on India’s ‘electoral democracy’ and a criminal offence. He said that the skeletons from Facebook India’s cupboard were tumbling out faster than the monsoon rains. He said, in a span of just two weeks, three separate articles in credible international media publications have revealed how Facebook and WhatsApp have colluded with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to tarnish India’s democracy and tear India’s social harmony.
“‘We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history’ wrote Ankhi Das, Head of Facebook India’s public policy team to her colleagues in an internal email,” said the Congress leader.
Chowdhury said that Das was referring to Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2014 General Elections. “Evidently, she was elated at his victory and the big role her company, Facebook, played in helping him win,” the Congress leader claimed.
Chowdhury said that this is the third such investigative article that has exposed Facebook and WhatsApp nexus with the BJP. “The article reveals how despite questions raised by other employees in Facebook India and the company’s claims of neutrality, Das and her leadership team were arrogant and blatant in their biases,” he alleged.
Chowdhury said that the article states how Das boasted that she successfully lobbied with the BJP to include Facebook’s priorities in their election manifesto and ‘now they just need to go and win the elections’.
“She even circulated internal predictions of a BJP victory which she claimed she had obtained from a senior leader and close friend in the BJP,” Chowdhury noted.
Slamming the government, the Congress leader said, “Facebook and WhatsApp’s role in subverting India’s democracy is now unquestionable and beyond doubt. Their complicity in propagating hate speech and fake news to favour the BJP in elections is confirmed.”
He said what makes it worse is that Facebook’s global leadership team was well aware of the biases and partisanship of their India leadership team, but were willing participants. Chowdhury added that India is a sovereign republic and simply cannot tolerate interference in its domestic affairs by anyone, let alone a foreign company in pursuit of profits.