Leaked Documents Show Hesitancy Facebook Limits Split Content in India

A number of documents were leaked and obtained by Associated Press shows Facebook in India is hesitant to limit hate speech and anti-Muslim content on its platform. Facebook also doesn’t have enough local language moderators to prevent misinformation from appearing.

The publication of fake news sometimes triggers real-world violence. The documents show the issue has plagued the company for years, especially in a case where members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP Bharatiya Janata Party created various Facebook accounts to amplify anti-Muslim content.

The documents show Facebook’s ongoing struggle to stop posting abusive content on its platform, in the largest democracy with the world’s fastest-growing market.

For a long time, ethnic and religious tensions in India have heated up on social media and culminated in violence.

Modi has been praised for using the platform to his party’s advantage during last general election, and a report in the Wall Street Journal last year cast doubt on whether Facebook had selectively enforced its policies on hate speech to prevent backlash from the BJP.

Modi and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have shown their closeness, as shown in photos of each other hugging at Facebook’s headquarters.

The leaked documents include a collection of internal company reports on hate speech and misinformation in India, which in some cases appear to have been intensified by its own “recommended” features and algorithms. The report also covers the concerns of company staff over the mishandling of the issue and their dissatisfaction with the “bad content” going viral on the platform.

According to the document Facebook sees India as one of the world’s “most at-risk countries” and identifies Hindi and Bengali as priorities for “automated abuse of vile statements.” But Facebook doesn’t have enough local language moderators or content tagging to stop misinformation, which sometimes leads to real-world violence.

In a statement on Associated Press, Facebook said it “has invested significantly in technology to find hate speech in multiple languages, including Hindi and Bengali,” which “halved the number of hate speech people viewed” by 2021.

“Hate speech against marginalized groups, including Muslims, is on the rise globally. So we’ve stepped up law enforcement and are committed to updating our policies as online hate speech grows,” the Facebook spokesperson added.

Report Associated Press This, along with other published reports, is based on disclosures by the SEC’s Securities and Exchange Commission and presented to the US Congress in a report that was injected by the legal team of former Facebook employee turned whistleblower, Frances Haugen. The edited version was obtained by a consortium of news organizations, including the Associated Press. [em/jm]

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