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Shareholders seek action on Meta’s ‘content management biases’ in India

The board of Meta has recommended that shareholders vote against a proposal to evaluate its human rights impact in India — signalling resistance to the only proposal, out of a total of 13 to be taken up at the May 31 annual general meeting, that relates to the tech giant’s biggest market in terms of users.

The shareholder proposal has urged Meta to release the complete findings of its human rights impact assessment report in India and called for an assessment of potential political biases in the company’s activities in India. It seeks to know if the social networking company’s content management algorithms and personnel in the country are at the scale and multilingual capacity necessary to curtail mass dissemination of hate speech and disinformation.

It is unlikely that the measure will be passed, especially owing to Meta’s dual-class ownership structure.

Meta had released a human rights impact assessment report in July 2022 which included a chapter on India, where it presented a brief summary of the findings of an independent team it had commissioned, drawing criticism from digital rights activities for withholding the full contents of the report.

The shareholder proposal, titled ‘Assessing Allegations of Biased Operations in Meta’s Largest Market,’ said: “…in February 2020, Muslim-majority neighborhoods of north-east Delhi were stormed by a mob, destroying mosques, shops, homes and cars, and killing 53 people. In months preceding the massacre, the head of a powerful North Indian temple videoed a speech onto Facebook, declaring ‘I want to eliminate Muslims and Islam from the face of the Earth.’ It has been viewed well over 40 million times.”

Apar Gupta, founding director of the Internet Freedom Foundation, told The Indian Express that he will present the proposal during Meta’s AGM and submit an audio clip with his arguments on why shareholders should support the measure.

Meta’s board has recommended to other shareholders that they vote against the resolution, saying that the company has made “substantial investments” on combating hate speech in India and that it works with a range of fact-checkers with an ability to fact check content in 15 Indian languages.

Asked whether Meta’s board was consistent with its recommendation to vote against the proposal, a spokesperson said: “Meta is committed to respecting human rights – and their underlying principles of equality, safety, dignity, privacy and voice – across our business operations.” Indian Express

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