(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
A report appears in Wall Street Journal (WSJ). It names Ankhi Das, the policy head of Facebook in India as sympathetic to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She is accused of allowing “hate speech” from the party’s leaders or supporters on the Social Media platform. Unnamed Facebook employees have spilled these beans. The Indian parliamentary IT panel, headed by Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, which also has Trinamool Congress’ (TMC) Mohua Moitra, are straining at the leash. The great idealists that they are–never mind they work for parties which are dictatorial—are sleepless at this assault on their professed principles.
Here, certain things don’t add up. The provocation of this report is recent Bengaluru riots. The implication is that the ugly violence was sparked off because Facebook let go a “hate-speech” against Muslims. The WSJ doesn’t name its sources which it claims are from the Facebook India fold itself. However, it has no qualms in naming and shaming the policy head of the Social Media giant.
It’s now known, through a piece by BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya, that if anything, Facebook is teeming with anti-BJP voices. It’s managing director is Ajit Mohan, who was a Planning Commission guy during the UPA days. Sidharth Mazumdar of Facebook’s public policy team, was once Sonia Gandhi’s strategist. Manish Khanduri, who headed news alliances for Facebook, had contested the 2019 general elections on a Congress ticket. But Ankhi Das, the policy head, is a BJP sympathizer, never mind her family is “aligned to the Trinamool Congress.” And if these names don’t ring a bell, this one would do: Manish Tewari, Union I&B minister under UPA, is on the board of Atlantic Council, which handles the job of eliminating political propaganda on Facebook.
It might bore you but a couple of sentences must not miss your attention. In the run-up to 2019 General Elections, Congress had engaged Cambridge Analytica. This company was in the business of weaponizing Facebook data and algorithms to influence elections around the world. Documents were submitted in UK parliament by a whistleblower in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica had worked for Congress party in India. Congress had been caught red-handed.
Doesn’t it beg a question if Facebook is pro-BJP or in fact pro-Congress? Just look at the names who are deleting their Facebook accounts in the last few hours: Nidhi Razdan, Swati Chaturvedi, KC Singh etc. They all are part of Left-Liberals. To me it looks a concerted attack.
Readers, now, let me pose a simple question: If Ankhi Das alone pulls all the strings and is aligned to BJP, how did the Sonia Gandhi go Live on Facebook, where she was on her “aar-ya-paar-ki-ladai” exhortation mode to Muslims, which was followed by Delhi riots killing 59 this February? If Facebook is biased in favour of BJP, how has Asaduddin Owaisi, “the champion of hate-speech” and Hizbul terrorist Burhan Wani could whip up thousands of followers on Facebook?
Who do you think is now the policy manager of Facebook? One who has perhaps used the vilest of language against the BJP and the prime minister Narendra Modi. This man is also abusive to Indian army. Does it look to you that Facebook leans towards BJP or Congress? Now we learn that Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is summoning Facebook officials to probe their role in the Delhi riots. Doesn’t it make you appear that a lion (BJP) is being hunted down by wolves?
And please don’t be fooled that Facebook once deleted accounts of Congress sympathizers. Or that Ankhi Das was a proof Facebook was supporting BJP. This is a common mode how you cover your tracks. Arguments which you could always throw at your investigators. You throw a few useless, like Ankhi Das, under the bus to appear pious. Meanwhile, parley with big matrons in the background.
Readers you would now say how does it concern you? It of course concerns you a hell of a lot. You are using Social Media platforms which has banned a strong anti-Left-Liberal voice like Dr Anand Ranganathan on twitter. All for quoting a verse from Quran. Do we need to remind how many times True Indology has been banned on twitter? Do we need to recount the hate posts which were made against Kamlesh Tewari for mentioning the Prophet Muhammad and nothing happened to them?
All this is to let you know that your Social Media platforms are rigged. Nobody knows how their algorithms work. First came the Indian newspapers with monopoly on news and ideas. Then it was democratized with the onset of internet. Now we have same monopolistic roaches, teeming on the floor, which decide who comes in into the kitchen and who stay out. The powers of this world have always wanted to rule the humanity. Whenever masses are empowered, these monsters strike back.
You and I thus stand no chance. The only hope are those who want truth at all costs. It could be you, me or a few of our brave websites. The ones who also hope that one day Indian state and its brightest would work out new Social Media platforms which we could call our own.
Till then, suffer. But fight.
(This is a reprint from NewsBred).
Let me say this at the outset that the headline of this piece doesn’t quite convey the disgust I feel for the kind of journalism Indian Express indulges in with a straight face and yet call itself a “journalism of courage.”
This “journalism of courage” publishes family interviews of terrorists (like they have of Shakir Bashir of Pulwama attack today) but would never have time for tears of near and dear ones of a Ankit Sharma or Kamlesh Tewari.
In other stories on front page today, it has one on how Indonesia has called in Indian envoy on CAA as a headline. But Express won’t headline the fact that Jakarta has expressed “complete confidence in Indian government.”
It has one headline on front page which says “10 stabbed in Shillong, toll 2 in anti-CAA unrest in state.” The very first line in the text says the “violence believed to be related to Citizenship Act..” So the readers must treat it as a CAA-related violence even as the text only “believes” it to be so.
These examples I have quoted are of just one day, today. All on front page. Indian Express does it everyday. So bad is their track record that once I had offered Rs 50,000 in 2016 to anyone who could show me a favourable story on Hindus on their front pages. Needless to say, the offer remains unclaimed to this day.
This toxic newspaper does more or less the same thing every day: Twisting headlines, hiding texts which don’t suit their agenda, any positive story or comment by a BJP leader is inevitably deflated with the help of bytes of a Anand Sharma or Sitaram Yechury; Ghulam Nabi Azad or D. Raja; Shashi Tharoor or Mallikarajun Khadge, the usual rent-a-byte suspects. It’s editorial pages “breed” academicians and experts who peddle the Left-Liberal narrative, twisting history; Human Rights activists who can’t see Hindus being butchered, say, in Bengal and Kerala; former judges, election commissioners, police chiefs who were beholden to the toxic Congress rule in this country.
I would still have given Indian Express the benefit of doubt if once in a while they tried to present the other side of the narrative. How come farmers’ plight under the BJP regime is sung from the rooftop but the Madhya Pradesh government, which hasn’t honoured the farmers’ waiver promise of its manifesto, isn’t pulled up? They would use microscopic lens to highlight “lynching” of a particular community while the one of the other community is altogether ignored. How come a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan doesn’t have one single story come out in its criticism. Are the readers being told that Arvind Kejriwal hasn’t done a single thing worthy of criticism in his three terms as chief minister of Delhi? A GST is criticized even though it came about with the consensus of all states and stakeholders.
To me eyes, Indian Express is bereft of any credibility today. It’s allowed to go scot-free because the inner mechanism which upholds truth and integrity of Indian media, the Press Council of India and Editors’ Guild, are so hopelessly out of shape. Dead men walking. Information and Broadcasting Ministry is wary of belling the cat for fear of its own kind. The judiciary is all sanguine for fixing the “hate-speech” makers and “sedition” cases. But it won’t take a call on media which polarizes the communities with fake news.
As for readers, they remind me of a famous saying: “A crook appeals to the straight; guilty to the innocent.”
So readers be vigilant. Watchful. Know your responsibility. If nothing then to see where your buying rupee is going. All responsible mechanisms in this country have given such newspapers a free run. They are looking the other way. You alone can bell the cat. If your newspaper doesn’t mend, stop buying those rags.