Facebook Papers: Whistleblower Prepares to Testify Before Indian Parliament
12:43 GMT 27.10.2021 (Updated: 18:21 GMT 03.11.2022)
Internal documents called the Facebook Papers, recently obtained by the 'New York Times' and other US publications, revealed that the social media giant failed to get a grip on the fake news, hate speech, and inflammatory content among Indian users.
Former Facebook data analyst and whistleblower Sophie Zhang said on Wednesday that she is ready to appear before the lower house of the Indian parliament if New Delhi opens an investigation into malpractice at the social media giant. Zhang added that she would happily testify before the parliament of any democratic nation.
The former Facebook data scientist testified before the UK parliamentary committee on the Online Safety Bill earlier this month. According to Zhang, Facebook is "allowing authoritarian governments to manipulate political discourse"
She reacted to the demand put forward by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) - a digital advocacy group - urging the Narendra Modi government to take notice of the Facebook papers.
The IFF has asked the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology to open an inquiry into the revelations made, specifically about India, and call the relevant characters to testify before it.
Two whistleblowers, Frances Haugen and Sophie Zhang, have come forward with claims that Facebook is well aware of the harm its platforms cause users but deliberately doesn't do everything in its power to stop this as it would hurt the company's financial growth
Zhang, who was sacked by Facebook in 2020 because of alleged poor performance, shone the spotlight on the fact that the American firm was selective in removing fake accounts during the 2020 Delhi elections. The Indian government has yet to react to this revelation.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in a sworn testimony before the US Congress last year, said that, "what our transparency reports show is that… we are proactively identifying, I think it's about 94 percent of the hate speech that we ended up taking down, and the vast majority of that before people even had to report it to us."
However, the IFF claimed that a document titled 'Problematic Non-violating Narratives' revealed that Facebook deleted less than 5 percent of all the hate posted on its platform.
Another paper, titled 'What is collateral damage?', goes on to state that Facebook's core mechanics, such as allowing stories to go viral, recommendations, and optimising for engagement, are a major reason hate speech, misinformation, and divisive political speech all flourish on the platform.
Earlier this month, former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen told the US Congress that the company was allegedly aware that it had inflicted harm on the mental health of teenagers. Still, it intentionally did not take action to prevent content promoting hate and division within society.
Zuckerberg has denied the allegations made by the whistleblowers, insisting that the company cares "deeply" about users' safety-related issues.