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Congress writes to Zuckerberg alleging BJP-Facebook quid-pro-quo relationship

News Agencies | Updated on: 29 August 2020, 16:05 IST

Congress alleged "quid-pro-quo" relationship between Facebook and the BJP on Saturday and wrote a letter to the social networking platform founder Mark Zuckerberg seeking information about steps the company is planning to take to investigate the matter.

"We draw your attention to the article in Time magazine dated Aug 27, 2020 that reveals more information and evidence of biases and a quid-pro-quo relationship of Facebook India with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)," read the letter by Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal to Zuckerberg.

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Venugopal said the article makes three main points that are "alarming and violate both the spirit and the law of operations of foreign companies in India".

"The BJP has been allowed to exercise control of WhatsApp's India operations in return for a possible licence for its payment operations, which is critical for the future of WhatsApp in India. More than just one person in your company's leadership team in India is biased and partisan in favour of the ruling BJP in their professional endeavours. The problem is larger, deeper and more pervasive than initially assumed," read the letter.

WhatsApp is owned by Facebook Inc. "The WhatsApp platform used by 400 million Indians has been willingly allowed by your India team to be appropriated for hate speech and the consequent tearing of India's fabric of social harmony," it said.

Venugopal said Congress party wants to know about steps Zuckerberg's company is planning to take to investigate these matters. "In light of the above new revelations and evidence, as the principal opposition political party and the party of India's freedom struggle, we urge you to let us know what steps your company is planning to take to investigate these matters and draw a plan of action to stem the rot in your India operations," read the letter.

"We will also be pursuing legislative and that a foreign company cannot continue to cause social disharmony in our nation for their pursuit of private profits," he stated.

The party had earlier sent a letter to Zuckerberg on August 17 drawing his attention to an article in the Wall Street Journal titled "Facebook's Hate-Speech Rules Collide with Indian Politics" that outlined Facebook India team's "blatant biases and interference" in India's democracy, Venugopal stated.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged that the BJP has a hold over WhatsApp and said the platform now needs the approval of the Central government to launch its payment services in India.

"America's Time magazine exposes WhatsApp-BJP nexus: Used by 40 Cr Indians, WhatsApp also wants to be used for making payments for which Modi Govt's approval is needed. Thus, BJP has a hold over WhatsApp," Gandhi tweeted while citing the media report.


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First published: 29 August 2020, 16:05 IST