A recent investigation has unveiled troubling allegations that Facebook, now known as Meta, allowed propaganda and hate speech to thrive in India under the influence of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The report published in The Washington Post sheds light on how the social media giant has been hesitant to take action against the BJP and its allies, raising concerns about the influence of authoritarian governments on tech platforms worldwide.
Nearly three years ago, Facebook’s investigators discovered a vast social media influence operation in Kashmir, a region fraught with tension and conflict.
In rare and extensive interviews, BJP staffers said the party quietly collaborates with content creators who run "third-party" or "troll" pages that create incendiary posts designed to go viral on WhatsApp and fire up the party's base. https://t.co/k3jj7iv3o3
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) September 27, 2023
The operation, which praised the Indian army’s crackdown in the area, was found to be run by the Indian army’s Chinar Corps.
However, when Facebook’s Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) unit sought to delete the network’s pages, executives in the New Delhi office hesitated, citing concerns about antagonizing the Indian government.
This delay allowed disinformation to endanger Kashmiri journalists until top Facebook executives finally intervened.
India has become a critical market for tech companies, with its substantial English-speaking population and rapid digital growth.
This has often led to special treatment for content that would otherwise violate platform terms of service.
Meta’s cautious approach to moderating pro-government content in India has been exacerbated by a clash between U.S.-based investigators and Indian executives who have political ties aligning with the BJP.