Union IT Minister R S Prasad Questions Facebook Over Handing Fact-Check Responsibility In India To Shady Organisations

Swarajya Staff

Sep 02, 2020, 03:17 PM | Updated 03:17 PM IST

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 
IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. (Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via GettyImages) 

Union Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Monday (1 September) questioned Facebook over anti-right wing bias as well on absolving itself of its responsibility to protect users from misinformation and handing out the fact-checking to third-party 'fact-checkers'.

In a letter to Facebook's chief executive officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg, Prasad accused Facebook India management team of having bias against the 'right-of-centre' ideology.

"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 dispensation have been defeated by the people in successive free and fair elections,' Prasad said.

"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," he added.

The minister further said that bias of the individuals working in Facebook India becoming an inherent bias of the platform was problematic.

"It is unacceptable that political biases of individuals impinges on freedom of speech of millions of people," he said.

Prasad also questioned the social media giant on handing over fact-checking responsibility to "shady organisations with no credibility".

"A major issue with Facebook is the outsourcing of fact-checking to third-party fact-checkers. How can Facebook absolve itself from its responsibility to protect users from misinformation and instead out-source this to shady organizations with no credibility," Prasad said.

"We have seen in India that right from the assessors for on-boarding fact-checkers to the fact-checkers themselves, harbour publicly expressed political biases," he added.

Taking a dig at the 'fact-checkers', the IT minister said that vigilant volunteers on social media have to fact-check the fact-checkers regularly.

Calling Facebook a 'novel experiment', Prasad urged Zuckerberg to not allow the platform to be hijacked by a 'vested lobby' that abhors free speech and tries to enforce one world view and rejects diversity.

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