Facebook on Thursday banned BJP MLA from Hyderabad, T. Raja Singh, who is at the centre of a controversy that erupted after a report in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ that Facebook’s content policies favoured the BJP.
The social media giant banned the legislator from its platform and Instagram for violating its policy that prohibits content promoting violence and hate.
“We have banned Raja Singh from Facebook for violating our policy prohibiting those that promote or engage in violence and hate from having a presence on our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
The process for evaluating potential violators is extensive and it is what led us to Facebook’s decision to remove his account, it added.
The action came amid mounting pressure on Facebook over its handling of hate content being circulated by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Facebook, which has over 300 million users in India, came under criticism after the ‘Wall Street Journal’, published a report last month that Facebook deliberately ignored disruptive content from members of the ruling BJP as well as right-wing voices and groups who have been ‘flagged internally’.
The report quoted unnamed Facebook insiders that one of the India policy executives intervened in an internal communication to stop a permanent ban on Raja Singh after he allegedly posted communal, divisive content.
The WSJ report triggered a political controversy with the Congress and the BJP trading barbs over Facebook’s alleged bias.
Facebook representatives on Wednesday appeared before a Parliamentary panel led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor after they were summoned to discuss the issue of alleged misuse of the social media platform.
Earlier On Tuesday, IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had written to Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, alleging that some Facebook employees were abusing the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers.
After the WSJ report, Raja Singh had denied making any social media posts which have the potential to whip up communal passions.
The member of the Telangana Legislative Assembly posted a video on his Twitter account to claim that he never posted any inflammatory content on social media.
Singh, who is known for making controversial comments and was also booked by police on various occasions, claimed that his official Facebook account was hacked and blocked in 2018.
The BJP leader, who represents Goshamahal constituency in Hyderabad, also stated that there were several Facebook accounts being run in the country in his name and that he can’t be held responsible for the comments posted on these pages.
“I am being projected as if I am the most dangerous in the entire world and whenever I post something on social media, something or the other happens. I work in the interest of the nation and dharma. Cite at least one instance where there was a riot because of my statement,” he asked.
“There are many Facebook accounts in my name. I can’t be held responsible for what they post. I can’t stop them from posting something. If they like or share something, I can’t be blamed for that,” he said.
Stating that he has only one official YouTube account and Twitter, Singh said he never posted anything provocative on these platforms.
The BJP leader said he had only one official Facebook account but it was hacked and blocked in 2018. “I lodged a complaint with Cyberabad police commissioner but there was no response,” he said.