Skip to main content

Hate speech: Plea to Meta AGM to oppose Facebook's 'biased operations' in India

By Our Representative 

Campaign groups Ekō, India Civil Watch International (ICWI), and Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), referring to Meta’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), to be held on May 31, where vote on Proposal 7’s bears “significance for the Indian audience”, has said that its outcome is particularly important against the backdrop of allegations against Facebook for allowing spread of hate speech.
One of the 13 proposals to be voted, the campaign groups say in an email alert to Counterview, “Of particular concern is Meta's consistently disappointing approach in such instances. Rather than promptly addressing divisive content, they have prioritised potential business interests over removing a source of hate speech, arguing that the latter could negatively impact their business in India.”
Proposal 7 titled “Assessing Allegations of Biased Operations in Meta's Largest Market”, is to be presented at Meta's AGM on May 31, 2023. The groups say, “It highlights allegations against Facebook for disseminating hate speech, its failure to address risks and political bias, voices concerns around inadequate content moderation and lack of transparency in platform practices.”
Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and other widely used social media platforms. Its founder, chairman, chief executive officer, and largest shareholder (13.4%) Mark Zukerberg, senior executives, nine members of Meta’s Board, and other members of the leadership team, will be in attendance at the AGM.
Other large shareholders are asset managers Vanguard with 6.9% share, BlackRock with 5.8% share, and Fidelity with 4.7% share. While Zuckerberg is not only the largest shareholder, he controls Meta with 61.9% of all votes thanks to super-voting shares.
The groups say, “Amidst the various proposals to be discussed, Proposal 7 tackles the critical issue of how Meta handles content regulation in India, a matter with profound implications for our society. It delves into the concerning role played by Meta's platforms in disseminating hate speech, fostering divisions, and even instigating real-world violence.”
Pointing towards how Ekō, ICWI, and IFF jointly launched a campaign to increase awareness among Meta shareholders and Meta users about the upcoming AGM meeting and Proposal 7, the groups insist, “We call on shareholders to vote 'Yes' on Proposal 7 by May 31.”
The email alert quotes Glass Lewis, a leading advisory service, which manages more than 40 trillion in assets, as well as provides institutional investors with guidance on resolutions has recommended shareholders vote ‘Yes’ on the proposal. For years, Glass Lewis has brought environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) expertise and analysis across approximately 100 global markets.
It says, Proposal 7 and the outcome of the vote “bear significance for the Indian audience”, underlining, “During the 2020 Delhi riots, Facebook faced numerous allegations that hate speech spread on the platform had fueled the violence. In another incident, Facebook's role in the communal riots which erupted in Delhi was investigated, after a video of a religious leader openly calling for 'ethnic cleansing' was shared widely on various Meta platforms.”
“Of particular concern is Meta's consistently disappointing approach in such instances. Rather than promptly addressing divisive content, they have prioritised potential business interests over removing a source of hate speech, arguing that the latter could negatively impact their business in India”, it adds.
The groups say, “Reports also indicate that Facebook may have allowed political parties to promote surrogate advertisements to boost their visibility. Furthermore, the content moderation system, which serves as our defence against hate speech, is ineffective in handling India's diverse range of official languages.”
They add, “Accusations have surfaced from individuals across the political spectrum over the years, with the most significant impact often affecting those without power. While social networks enable users to exercise their right to free expression, a goal worth protecting, we are frequently confronted with the harms they cause. This calls for systemic fixes and genuine accountability in a transparent, proportional, and certain manner.”
The email alert also quotes Apar Gupta, founding director of IFF, expressing disappointment over Meta's failure to fulfil its obligations to shareholders and the Indian republic, stating, "Today, a crisis affects Meta's reputation, operations, ESG commitments, and, ultimately, its investments. Meta platforms Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp with a rising teleconnectivity are used by most, if not all Indians with internet connections. The widespread use of these social platforms by its very nature bears the weight of social responsibility by Meta, in the company’s largest market.”
It also quotes top human rights leader Teesta Setalvad, a participant in Meta’s Human Right Impact Assessment, as saying, "At Citizens for Justice and Peace we have used every method available to track and report hate speech that is so harmful to our society. Social media, and the particular algorithm of Meta in India has made everything worse.”
She continues, “It has given a megaphone to the worst elements in our society, and further disempowered institutional mechanisms to hold them to account. It is with good faith that we participated in the Human Rights Impact Assessment and are extremely disappointed in Meta's response. Not only was the report not made public, there has been absolutely no change based on our suggestions.”
“India is the only country that has been subject to this degree of lack of transparency. This double standard needs to stop. Indian users of Meta are subjected to viral hate speech fed by its biased algorithms, while American users of Meta have checks and balances engineered to protect its users from the same thing. We urge the shareholders of Meta to use this opportunity to vote yes on Resolution 7", the senior activist adds.
Meanwhile, Ekō has submitted a shareholder proposal that demands that Meta commission a non-partisan assessment of these allegations and disclose the results in a report to investors. The assessment would evaluate political biases, content management capabilities, and the effectiveness of mechanisms in combating hate speech and disinformation.
“Meta has failed to publish the full report of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) for India which leads to concerns about Meta stifling transparency and accountability. Further, the four page summary on India’s assessment published in Meta’s first annual Human Rights Report is not reflective of the inputs provided by several civil society organisations who participated in the assessment”, the email alert says.
It regrets, “Meta’s Board has already cast the Proposal in an unfavourable light, stating their justification for such limited and insufficient disclosure as necessary to mitigate security risks for Meta’s employees. The Board of Directors, have thus recommended that shareholders vote against this proposal.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

BSF should take full responsibility for death of 4 kids in West Bengal: Rights defender

By Kirity Roy*  One is deeply disturbed and appalled by the callous trench-digging by BSF in Chetnagachh village under Daspara Gram Panchayat, Chopra, North Dinajpur District, West Bengal that has claimed the lives of four children. Along the entire stretch of Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal instead of guarding the actual border delineated by the international border pillars, BSF builds fences and digs trenches well inside the Indian territory, passing through villages and encroaching on private lands, often without due clearance or consent. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Social justice day amidst 'official neglect' of salt pan workers in Little Rann of Kutch

By Prerana Pamkar*  In India’s struggle for Independence, the Salt Satyagraha stands as a landmark movement and a powerful symbol of nonviolent resistance. Led by Mahatma Gandhi, countless determined citizens walked from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in Gujarat. However, the Gujarat which witnessed the power of the common Indian during the freedom struggle is now in the throes of another significant movement: this time it is seeking to free salt pan workers from untenable working conditions in the Little Rann of Kutch (LRK).

How GMOs would destroy non-GMO crops: Aruna Rodrigues' key submissions in SC

Counterview Desk The introduction of Bt and HT crops will harm the health of 1 billion Indians and their animals, believes Aruna Rodrigues, who has made some 60 submissions to the Supreme Court (SC) during the last 20 years. As lead petitioner who filed Public Interest Litigation in 2005, during a spate of intense hearings, which ended on 18 January 2024, she fought in the Apex Court to prevent the commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in Indian agriculture. 

Jallianwala massacre: Why Indian govt hasn't ever officially sought apology from UK

By Manjari Chatterjee Miller*  The king of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, apologized in July 2023 for his ancestors’ role in the colonial slave trade. He is not alone in expressing remorse for past wrongs. In 2021, France returned 26 works of art seized by French colonial soldiers in Africa – the largest restitution France has ever made to a former colony. In the same year, Germany officially apologized for its 1904-08 genocide of the Herero and Nama people of Namibia and agreed to fund reconstruction and development projects in Namibia. .

Will Budget 2024 help empower city govts, make them India's growth engines?

By Soumyadip Chattopadhyay, Arjun Kumar* Cities in India are envisioned as engines of growth. Any meaningful long-term vision for India would be incomplete without planning for the cities and quite rightly, urbanization is considered as one of the country’s top developmental challenges. Realization of full potential of cities depends crucially on their ability to provide ‘enabling’ environment especially in terms of sustained provision of a wide range of urban infrastructure and services.

Interpreting UAPA bail provisions: Is Supreme Court setting the clock back?

By Kavita Srivastava*, Dr V Suresh** The Supreme Court in its ruling on 7th February, 2024 in   `Gurvinder Singh v State of Punjab’ held that its own well-developed jurisprudence that "Bail is the rule and jail the exception" will not apply to those charged under the UAPA.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".