Leaked Documents Reveal Facebook Failing to Curb Hate Speech, Fake News in India

Published October 25th, 2021 - 07:58 GMT
 Leaked Documents Reveal Facebook Failing to Curb Hate Speech, Fake News in India
The leaked Facebook Papers include internal company reports on hate speech and misinformation in India that, in some cases, appeared to have been intensified by its own "recommended" feature and algorithms. (Shutterstock)

Facebook seems to have turned a blind eye to hate speech, misinformation and inflammatory posts in India, particularly anti-Muslim content, according to leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The leaked documents that were obtained by news organisations — including The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times — highlights Facebook's constant challenges in wiping out abusive content in India. 

Leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the so-called Facebook Papers reveal that the company has been aware of the problems for years, raising questions over whether it has done enough to address these issues.

Hate speech intensified by Facebook's own algorithm

"Rumors and calls to violence spread particularly on Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service in late February 2020," when clashes between the Hindu majority and Muslim minority left dozens dead, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The leaked Facebook Papers include internal company reports on hate speech and misinformation in India that, in some cases, appeared to have been intensified by its own "recommended" feature and algorithms. 

The leaked documents stated that although Facebook perceived India as one of the most "at-risk countries" in the world and identified both Hindi and Bengali as priority languages to monitor, the company did not have enough local language moderators or content-flagging in place to stop misinformation that, at times, was connected to real-world violence. And even though users in the United States represent less than 10% of Facebook's users worldwide, the majority of the company's budget is dedicated to the fight against misinformation there.

In a statement to AP, Facebook said it had "invested significantly in technology to find hate speech in various languages, including Hindi and Bengali" which "reduced the amount of hate speech that people see by half" in 2021.

"Hate speech against marginalised groups, including Muslims, is on the rise globally. So we are improving enforcement and are committed to updating our policies as hate speech evolves online," a company spokesperson said.


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