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Facebook says will purge hateful posts by public figures in India

Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said in a statement that Facebook has always been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

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New Delhi: Facing intense political heat in India over its alleged role in favouring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on its platform, social networking giant Facebook on Friday clarified its position, saying it has removed and will continue to remove content posted by public figures in India which violate its community standards.

Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director, Facebook India, said in a statement that Facebook has always been an open, transparent and non-partisan platform where people can express themselves freely.

“Over the last few days, we have been accused of bias in the way we enforce our policies. We take the allegations of bias incredibly seriously, and want to make it clear that we denounce hate and bigotry in any form,” Mohan said.

He was referring to the controversy generated after a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claimed that Facebook’s content regulation policies favoured the BJP.

The WSJ report sparked a widespread debate in India, raising serious questions over Facebook’s content regulation practices.

The report claimed that Facebook India’s Public Policy Head Ankhi Das had told staff members that punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company’s business prospects.

Mohan said the policies at Facebook are “ever-evolving to take into account the local sensitivities, especially in a multicultural society such as India”.

“An example is the inclusion of caste as a protected characteristic in our global hate speech policy in 2018,” Mohan said.

The Facebook India chief said that the employees represent a varied political spectrum who have either served in many administrations or have political experience and take immense pride in being active contributors to public service.

“Despite hailing from diverse political affiliations and backgrounds, they perform their respective duties and interpret our policies in a fair and non-partisan way. The decisions around content escalations are not made unilaterally by just one person; rather, they are inclusive of views from different teams and disciplines within the company,” he elaborated.

Amid the debate, BJP’s IT cell chief Amit Malviya has claimed that Mohan worked with the Planning Commission during the UPA era.

According to Mohan, there is no place for hate speech on Facebook but they need to do more.

“We know this work is never over, which is why we will continue to invest in our efforts to combat hate speech on our services. We welcome the opportunity to engage with all parties — political or otherwise — who want to understand our content policies and enforcement more,” he said, adding that Facebook’s commitment to India and its people is unwavering.

The Congress has demanded that Facebook should order a high-level inquiry into its leadership team and their operations in a time-bound manner, and publish and make transparent all instances of hate speech since 2014 that were allowed on the platform.

“Facebook India should appoint a new team so that the investigation is not influenced,” said Congress leader K.C. Venugopal in a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

India

Rahul Gandhi keeps his word, gifts house to Kerala sisters who lost everything in landslide

K Kavya and Karthika were saved from nature’s fury last year as they were staying in a hostel and pursuing their studies. The girls had lost all their property and relatives. Gandhi had met them last year and promised them a new home.

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Rahul Gandhi Kavya and Karthika

Congress leader and former party chief Rahul Gandhi on Monday distributed keys of a newly built house to two sisters who lost all their relatives in Kavalapara landslide last year.

K Kavya and Karthika were saved from nature’s fury last year as they were staying in a hostel and pursuing their studies. Gandhi had met the girls last year and promised them a new home. The girls had lost all their property and relatives in the landslide last year, Gandhi’s promise to them was finally fulfilled a year later.

At least 59 people were killed when a portion of a mountain drifted in Kavalapara after heavy rainfall last year. Similarly, in Puthuamala in Wayanad, 17 people perished in another landslide during the same period.

On Monday, Gandhi began his three-day visit to his constituency in Wayanad in north Kerala. After arriving at Kozhikode international airport by a special flight, he participated in a weekly Covid-19 review meeting in Malappuram Collectorate.

Gandhi is visiting his constituency after nine months – his last visit was in January. Soon after the natural disaster that crippled the hilly district, he visited the accident spots.

“He will interact with selected leaders. All restrictions will be in place. The main focus of his visit is to review the pandemic situation in the constituency,” said Wayanad district Congress president IC Balakrishnan.

The District Congress Committee (DCC) said no public function was scheduled during the day due to restrictions. On Tuesday, Gandhi will attend a Covid-19 review meeting at Wayanad Collectorate and meet party leaders. He will also visit Mananthawady government hospital on Wednesday before leaving from Kannur airport, the DCC said.

Last week, there was a controversy after Wayanad district collector Dr Adeela Abdulla denied permission to inaugurate a new block of a state-run school built with his MP fund. The online function was cancelled by the district administration last minute, stating that the state government was not informed about it and that protocols were not met. The Congress had criticised the decision saying it was politically-motivated.

His presence in the last Lok Saha election had helped the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) sweep the state winning 19 out of 20 seats. It also helped curb factionalism in the state party unit. Kerala assembly elections are due in six months and going by the tradition of the state to show incumbent doors, the UDF is likely to storm back to power.

Though the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) and the Congress are in good terms in national politics, in Kerala they are sworn enemies. During the last Lok Sabha election, Gandhi did not attack the CPI(M) in the state and used his firepower to attack the BJP, a distant third-runner in the state.

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Election

EC seeks detailed report on Kamal Nath’s jibe at BJP candidate

Addressing a poll meeting on Sunday in Gwalior’s Dabra town where the BJP has fielded Imarti Devi, Nath said the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike the opponent who was an “item”.

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Kamal Nath INC

The Election Commission on Monday sought a “detailed report” from the chief electoral officer of Madhya Pradesh on Congress leader Kamal Nath’s remarks against a woman candidate during a poll rally in the state.

Addressing a poll meeting on Sunday in Gwalior’s Dabra town where the BJP has fielded Imarti Devi, Nath said the Congress candidate was a “simple person” unlike the opponent who was an “item”.

Imarti Devi and 21 other MLAs loyal to Jyotiraditya Scindia had resigned from the Congress and the state assembly and joined the BJP in March, in the process bringing down the Nath government.

“Based on the report received from the chief electoral officer of MP, we have asked for a detailed report. It would be with the Commission on Tuesday. Based on it, the Commission would take a view,” said a senior EC functionary.

The National Commission for Women had also forwarded the matter to the Election Commission for necessary action.

“By the time we received reference from NCW, we had already sought a detailed report from CEO, Madhya Pradesh,” the EC official said.

Bypolls to 28 Madhya Pradesh assembly seats will be held on November 3 and the counting of votes will take place on November 10.

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Election

When Husband Jailed, Wife Made CM: Nitish’s Dig At RJD

He said that no section of society had been ignored during his rule and special developmental works taken up for those pushed to the margins of society.

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Nitish Kumar

Aurangabad (Bihar): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday took a dig at the RJD leadership, and said — without taking names — that when ‘husband’ went to jail his ‘wife’ was made the Chief Minister in the past.

He was obviously referring to Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi.

Nitish, who leads the Janata Dal-United, also claimed that law and order during the earlier RJD rule was poor.

“Everyone knows what all happened during the rule of husband and wife. All kinds of crimes were reported. People used to desist from venturing out as evening hours approached. But when we got a chance to serve the people, we carried out developmental works in all sectors,” the Chief Minister said while addressing public rallies in Rafiganj in Aurangabad district and Sherghati in Gaya district.

“When the wife (Rabri) was made the Chief Minister, nothing was done for the welfare of women. But during our rule, we ensured 50 per cent reservation for women in rural local bodies,” the JD-U leader claimed.

He said that no section of society had been ignored during his rule and special developmental works taken up for those pushed to the margins of society.

“Today, not only the country but the whole world is taking note of works done in Bihar, but some people are busy finding faults,” he remarked.

Nitish also said that his government also worked for the welfare of minority communities without discrimination, apart from women empowerment.

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