New Delhi: Facebook parent Meta’s Indian team delayed action against an organised propaganda and misinformation operation led by the Indian Army’s Chinar Corps in Jammu and Kashmir for a year, The Washington Post has reported citing former employees at the company. According to the report, Army officials met representatives of Twitter and Facebook and defended the operation as a counter against Pakistani misinformation networks.
The report cited members of Meta’s Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) team for Facebook, whose brief was to flag fake profiles and networks of accounts that artificially amplified messages on the social network around the world. When the CIB flagged the Chinar Corps’s alleged operation, Meta staff in India reportedly “warned against antagonising the government of a sovereign nation over actions in territory it controls,” and expressed concern that local employees “could be imprisoned for treason,” the Post reported.
It is unclear what the Chinar Corps’ network was posting, but the report cites “disinformation that put Kashmiri journalists in danger,” adding that many CIB employees at Facebook quit the company after Indian Meta staff stymied any pushback. The operation reportedly targeted Srinagar-based media outlet The Kashmiriyat and its editor Qazi Shibli.
As a global company, we operate in an increasingly complex regulatory environment and are focused on keeping people safe when they use our services and ensuring the safety of our employees in a manner consistent with applicable laws and human rights principles,” Meta said in a statement shared with a media house, adding that it prohibited coordinated inauthentic behaviour on its platforms.
This is not the first time the social media firm has been accused of allowing propaganda networks in India to go unchecked. In 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported that posts by Telangana BJP MLA T. Raja Singh calling for violence against Rohingya immigrants from Myanmar were not taken down, in spite of warnings from Meta staff in the U.S., due to pushback from Ankhi Das, Mr. Thukral’s predecessor.