Facebook non-partisan, politically neutral: India chief Ajit Mohan

Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan has defended the handling of alleged hate speeches by members of the ruling BJP, saying the platform has remained true to its design of being neutral and non-partisan and acted based on inputs from various teams.

In an interview with PTI, Mohan rejected charges of Facebook India’s decisions being influenced by political leanings of individuals, saying the process followed at the platform is designed to ensure no one person can influence outcomes, let alone take any unilateral decisions.

“The content policy of team that is at the centre of all the enforcement decisions (on hate speeches) is separate and independent in India from the public policy team (that handles government relations),” he said. “It’s designed for independence.”

And the content management team is guided by only community standards. “And enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one,” he asserted.

Individuals can have “points of views” or “leanings”, the “system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes,” he said.

“And so the answer is yes,” he said replying to a question on whether Facebook is a non-partisan and politically neutral entity.

The comments come amid a political storm over a report published in the Wall Street Journal last month, alleging the social media giant ignored extremist posts by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to protect its business interests in India.

According to the report, Facebook deleted anti-Muslim posts by BJP’s Telangana MLA T Raja Singh and three other Hindu nationalists only after being questioned by the paper. Facebook’s head of public policy Ankhi Das, the report said citing company employees, had opposed the deletion of the posts despite being flagged internally as breaching standards.

Facebook earlier this month banned the 42-year-old Telangana MLA, categorising him as a “dangerous individual”.

Mohan said there are no limits to respectable standard for free speech within and outside the company.

While there are people from multiple political leanings and backgrounds in the company, Facebook values people of experience in government or in public service.

“But at the same time, I think it is important to call out to you that the content policy of a team that is at the centre of all of these enforcement decisions is separate and independent in India from the public policy team here. It’s designed for independence. So the public policy team that engages with government, for example, central and state governments, is a part of my team. That is separate from the content policy team which is part of the global team,” he said.

“So, I think the point is while people can have points of view, they can have leanings, the system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes, let alone have any unilateral decision making power on this aspect. The separation in India context tells you how design is meant for independence,” he said.

Mohan said the content moderation is largely done through automated systems and human reviewers.

In dealing with complex issues such as designating individuals, especially elected officials, the content policy team comes into play.

“The public policy team does seek inputs from multiple functions and disciplines and teams including public policy team in India. That is not interference. That is the process, that is being designed to have enough local context from the local team,” he said. “But finally the decision that is taken is not taken by the public policy team.”

“So you have the opportunity in certain cases like designation, from multiple local and international teams, to provide a point of view that is by design. But it is not for them to take any unilateral decision. That still goes through the content policy team,” he said.

Facebook has over 300 million users in India, while its associate WhatsApp is the leader in messaging with over 400 million users.

In April this year, Facebook invested USD 5.7 billion to buy a 9.9 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of energy-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Mohan said Facebook has an impartial approach to dealing with content and that this is governed strongly by its community standards. These policies are enforced globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural beliefs, he emphasised.

“That is the basis and enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one. It goes to the heart of something all of us embrace, that we have to be neutral, we have to be non-partisan,” he added.

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Soweto family calls for death penalty after murder of grandmother, grandchildren

As Women’s Month draws to a close, the spate of violence against women and children continues unabated and the latest casualties are a Soweto grandmother and her two grandchildren.

The bodies of Matsie Dhladhla, 58; Tebello Motshele, 10; and Botshelo Motshele, 14, were found in their Protea Glen home in Soweto on Monday. They had been stabbed to death.

Police confirmed that they were looking for Dhladhla’s ex-boyfriend in connection with the killings and said he was on the run.

They have appealed to the public for information.

News24 visited the family’s home on Wednesday and spoke to Dhladhla’s niece, Lerato Mokone, who said the killing hurt the family deeply.

According to Mokone, Dhladhla’s neighbour became suspicious after not seeing her for two days and called her daughter to check if everything was okay. When the daughter arrived on Monday, she discovered the three bodies.

“There was blood all over when their bodies were found,” she said, adding that the gate was locked.

The family had its suspicions about who the culprit was.

“We suspect it was Dhladhla’s lover because the person who did this locked the bodies inside the house and the gate before fleeing. We have learnt that my aunt had told neighbours that she was no longer in love with the suspect.

“The suspect is well-known in the taxi industry and justice needs to be served.”

They added that for justice to be served, the death penalty needed to return.

“Should he be arrested and received a life sentence, his life will continue. He will able to receive a meal, clothes and an opportunity to study in prison. We are calling on the president to bring back the death penalty to assist families of victims to get closure.

“Today, we and our children are no longer safe in this country. We are no longer enjoying this country because of this pandemic called gender-based violence that is winning daily by ending our lives,” said Mokone.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the three victims had injuries to their upper bodies.

“It is suspected that the perpetrator is the ex-boyfriend of the deceased woman and he is on the run,” said Peters.

News24 spoke to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at the family’s Soweto home. She had decided to visit the family to offer comfort and support. She grew up in the area herself.

She told News24 that she was alarmed by the escalating rate at which women and children were killed in South Africa.

“It is sad that during the month of August when we are celebrating Women’s Month, we are confronted with the brutality that women and children are facing. It is painful to have a woman and her two young children murdered in this horrifying way, allegedly by someone claiming to have loved her.

“I hope that law enforcement agencies will get the suspect and arrest him [so he can] face what he has done. I think he will give answers to the family and tell them why he did what he did because it is unjustifiable. I don’t know what type of a human being does this to a mother and her children.”

The minister called on society, including all men, to spare the lives of women and children.

“It is scary to all of us when we hear such news daily. It is scary, frightening and it is every woman’s fear. If you are a man, imagine if that is done to your mother and sister? We have been saying enough is enough and it is not [becoming] enough, and it continues.”

She said the fight to end the scourge was not the responsibility of the government alone.

“It is even difficult to police it because it happens behind closed doors. The rate at which women and children are killed in this country is not acceptable.

“We are calling on the police to at least, even if possible, when the victims are buried, that he is brought to book,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

“The suspect is definitely known and somebody is with this wanted person. We are appealing to those who know where he is hiding to think about what the family is going through.

“If you know where he is, please contact the police. There is a woman and children who are dead and there is a family that is grieving. You can’t be quiet when you know where is. Please assist the police and come forward for the family to find closure,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

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Nigerian Humanitarian Ministry, US Embassador Collaborate To Fight COVID-19

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs , Disaster Management and social
Development has pledged to work with the United States Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard, to strengthen bilateral relations relations between both countries especially on humanitarian affairs.

This was disclosed at a meeting held by the ministry of Humanitarian
Affairs in Abuja.
#COVID19 #HumanitarianService
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Human Trafficking: Lebanon Stops Issuance Of Visas To Nigerian Girls

The Lebanese embassy says it has stopped the issuance of visas to young Nigerian girls.

The Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria is hoping this will help mitigate the rising cases of trafficking in the country.

He disclosed this while paying a visit in company of leaders of the
Lebanese community in Abuja to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
#HumanTrafficking #Lebanon
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94 Nigerians Evacuated From Lebanon Arrive In Lagos

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The Federal Government has evacuated 94 Nigerian girls who were stranded in Lebanon.
#Lebanon #Humantrafficking #Evacuation #Airport

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30 Stranded Nigerians Rescued In Lebanon

Thirty Nigerian ladies trafficked to Lebanon have been rescued by the Nigerian government.
#Lebanon #HumanTrafficking #Nigeria

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Analysis: Curbing Human Trafficking In Nigeria

This is an analysis of the rescue of 30 women from lebanon after being trafficked from Nigeria and ways that the trend of human trafficking can be curbed.
#HumanTrafficking #Nigeria #Lebanon

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Nigeria/Lebanese Authorities Step Action Against Human Trafficking

The Nigerian/Lebanese Authorities have stepped up actions to curb the trend of human trafficking in both countries.
#Lebanon #Nigeria

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Victim Of Human Trafficking Returns To Nigeria

The diplomatic effort by Nigerians to get justice for 31-year-old Temitope Ariwolo has yielded results.
#Justice #NigerianEffort #TemitopeAriwolo

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UN suspends humanitarian services in North East Nigeria

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The United Nations in Nigeria has paused the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service rotary operations in the Northeast.

This according to them is to establish the facts surrounding a shooting incident during a UN aircraft approach to Damasak, Borno State where one of the UN helicopters sustained bullet holes to the body of the air craft.

This halt in humanitarian services will be for an initial period of one week to allow the UN officials engage with government partners and conduct a new risk assessments for each helicopter location.

#UN #humanitarianservices #NorthEast

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