BJP asked Facebook to monetise OpIndia, remove Bhim Army page
Last year BJP flagged 44 pages of its rival out of which 14 no longer remain on the platform and now asked FB to monetise two right-wing pages - OpIndia and Chaupal
The Bharatiya Janata Party asked Facebook to monetise the official page of OpIndia, a Hindu nationalist misinformation website with connections to the governing party, in November 2019, reports said. Another Hindu nationalist website, the Chaupal, received similar treatment. In January 2019, two months before the Lok Sabha election, the party flagged 44 pages to Facebook, reports added.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Bharatiya Janata Party had flagged 44 pages on Facebook which opposed the party or the “rival pages” and had asked the social media giant to monetise two right-leaning websites — The Chaupal and OpIndia. Of the 44 pages, 14 of them have been deleted from Facebook. The revelations were reported in The Indian Express.
These pages were handled by opponents and critics of BJP. (Facebook allows you to flag both posts and photos that you deem offensive by keeping your identity as anonymous. Later the same post is rechecked by Facebook.)One such page being, page of the Bhim Army, “We Hate BJP” and another “The Truth of Gujarat,” administered by Alt News founder Pratik Sinha.
These revelations were reported in the Indian Express today. They are based on emails between Amit Malviya, who heads BJP’s IT cell, and Facebook India’s public policy executives Ankhi Das and Shivnath Thukral. The report adds that of the 44 pages flagged by the BJP, 14 no longer remain on the platform.
The pages were accused of spreading hatred and misinformation to the people through their content. The Express report said: “All the 17 pages reinstated by Facebook India on BJP’s request currently share content almost exclusively from Postcard News, many in Kannada. None of these pages are directly labelled as connected to a political party.”
The pages that have been taken down by Facebook include pages in support of journalists Ravish Kumar and Vinod Dua while those that had been flagged but continue to be on the platform include the official account of the Bhim Army, satire site “We Hate BJP”, unofficial Congress-supporting pages and a page called “The Truth of Gujarat”.
Last year in November, the BJP had asked Facebook India to reinstate 17 deleted pages and “monetise” i.e. to receive ad revenue for their content – The Chaupal and OpIndia . Vikas Pandey, the founder of The Chaupal, told the Indian Express that his site has not been allowed monetisation after Facebook revoked its monetisation in March 2019.
Indian Express reported that OpIndia’s Facebook page has spent nearly Rs 90,000 on political ads between March and June 2019. But A Facebook spokesperson told Express: “There is no term as shielding. We have a process called Cross-Check which is a system for reducing errors in enforcement by ensuring content from some Pages and profiles is given a second layer of review to make sure we’ve applied our policies correctly. It does not prevent enforcement action if a violation of our Community Standards is found.”