Facebook bans BJP’s Raja Singh over hate content

The Telangana MLA is accused of violating social media giant’s policy amid heated debate over its handling of extremist content

Raja Singh represents Goshamahal assembly constituency in Hyderabad. File photo: PTI

Facebook on Thursday (September 3) banned Telangana BJP MLA T Raja Singh from its platform and Instagram for violating its policy on content promoting violence and hate.

“We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those who promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

It said the process for evaluating potential violators “is extensive and it is what led us to the decision to remove his account”.

Raja Singh represents Goshamahal assembly constituency in Hyderabad.

The action by the social media giant came amid growing political pressure in India over its handling of extremist content. On Wednesday, Facebook representatives, including its India head Ajit Mohan Prasad, faced “uncomfortable questions” from a parliamentary panel led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on alleged political bias from both sides of the political divide.

T Raja Singh had claimed in a video on Twitter last month that he does not have any official Facebook page. “I have got to know many FB pages are using my name. Let me clarify I’m not having any official page, I’m not responsible for any of their posts,” he had said.

Singh had also sought to disown communally-charged posts, saying his official Facebook account was “hacked and blocked in 2018”.

The Wall Street Journal, in the first of its reports on Facebook, had quoted unnamed insiders who claimed that Facebook India executive Ankhi Das intervened in an internal communication to stop a permanent ban on Raja Singh after he allegedly posted divisive content, saying it would damage “business prospects” in India.

The WSJ report said that internal Facebook staff concluded that the MLA should be banned from the platform under a policy “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations”.

In the parliamentary panel meeting of over two hours on Wednesday, Facebook officials were asked to list instances where they acted against hate speech. Singh’s alleged posts were also cited by members of the Opposition.

The ruling BJP and Congress have been trading barbs over the social media giant’s alleged bias.

On Tuesday, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad wrote to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, accusing the social media platform’s employees of supporting people from a political predisposition that lost successive elections, and “abusing” the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers.

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