Facebook, which has recently clashed with local governments over the rights of foreign users, has complied with a request from the Indian government to remove content that was being used to spread hate speech and incite violence. In the northeastern state of Assam, there has been widespread violence which has left 78 dead, and threats and rumors of more violence and retaliation have spread over Facebook. The posts have caused tens of thousands of people to leave their homes in the northeastern province, fearing that they could be targeted in the retaliatory violence.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, India’s Department of Electronics & Information Technology said: “A lot more and quicker action is expected from (social-networking sites) to address such a sensitive issue, which concerns restoring peace, harmony, public order, and national security.” Facebook, for its part, has issued its party line of taking down anything that violates its policies.
Facebook has been criticized before for its slow response to crises, and this situation appears to be no different. The government of India is demanding a lightning fast move from Facebook to take these pages down, but they are moving at their typically ponderous speed. However, how responsible is Facebook for the content on its pages? Does Facebook owe it to these governments to intervene in their own internal conflicts? It isn’t legally bound to do so. Still, chalk this up as another international incident where Facebook comes out looking like the bad guy.
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