Hundreds of people of different faiths, professions, and backgrounds gathered in eight major cities of the United States, Saturday and Sunday to protest Facebook allowing hate speech to be freely posted in India, resulting in persecution, physical attacks, and killings of Muslims and other religious minorities in India.
The protests, organized by India Genocide Watch, featured speakers demanding that Facebook’s founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg end his company’s complicity in extreme Hindu right-wing incitement to violence, proliferating on Facebook and WhatsApp, as exposed by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Protest demonstrations were held in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco’s Menlo Park, where Facebook is headquartered.
“We demand that Facebook designate as ‘dangerous organizations’ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, its Nazi-inspired ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh and their armed affiliates, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal,” said Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of the Indian American Muslim Council.
At a protest at Menlo Park in California, outside the global headquarters of Meta, the new name for Facebook, Inc., Javid Ali of Bay Muslims for Human Rights, alleged that Facebook deliberately and knowingly refused to block Islamophobic hate enabling fascist violence against India’s Muslims.
“Facebook has blood on its hands,” added Karthic of Ambedkar King Study Circle. “The algorithms used in Facebook are biased against the religious minorities and the socially oppressed. We condemn Facebook for failing to fix these proven issues.”
Many protesters braved the rain to march to Facebook’s office in Seattle chanting “Facebook Hatebook.”
“Companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon are participants… in the state forces of bigotry, hate, religions, and caste oppressions,” Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, said.
According to Hira Singh Bhullar of Khalsa Gurmat Center, a Sikh NGO, “this hate is coming from politicians promoting hate. Shame on Facebook.”
As Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and Facebook’s own internal documents have revealed, the vast RSS-BJP network is running fake pages and deliberately spreading misinformation, hate speech, and incitement to violence, abetted by Facebook’s algorithms.
India is Facebook’s biggest market, with at least 340 million Facebook accounts and 400 million WhatsApp users. The social media giant has increasingly prioritized business interests in India, failing to act against the tsunami of hate and violence enabled by its platforms.
“We think that now in Kashmir and Assam, the stage is at persecution, and that’s the stage just before actual genocide,” said Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, Founding President and Chairman of Genocide Watch.
An article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal quoted human rights advocates as accusing Facebook of stalling its report on steps it is taking to identify and delete hate speech. Detailed coverage in Washington Post, New York Times, and Associated Press have quoted extensively from whistleblower Haugen’s submissions to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and other documents to reveal how Facebook knowingly allowed anti-Muslim hate speech and incitement to violence to proliferate in India.