Amidst rising concerns over technology's role in influencing public sentiment, the ‘INDIA bloc', an opposition alliance, has reached out to tech giants Meta and Google. Citing potential biases and the importance of preserving social harmony, especially in the lead-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, the bloc has called for a commitment to neutrality from both companies.
The communication to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai follows a report from the Washington Post, which indicated a possible tilt on platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube towards the ruling BJP party and the Narendra Modi-led administration. Expressing these concerns, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge shared the letter addressed to Zuckerberg. He emphasised findings from the Washington Post, hinting at Meta's inadvertent role in fostering social unrest and divisive sentiments in India.
In a subsequent post, Kharge highlighted similar apprehensions in a letter sent to Pichai. The Washington Post's investigation was referenced, pointing to potential discrepancies in Alphabet's platform, YouTube, in terms of content handling.
Detailing their representation, the INDIA bloc informed Zuckerberg that the India National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) is composed of 28 political parties. They currently govern in 11 states and collectively represent a notable portion of the Indian voting populace. With this foundation, the bloc accentuated the significance of Meta ensuring neutrality in its Indian operations.
Interestingly, the timing of the communication was highlighted by the opposition. The letters were sent during the birth anniversary month of Mahatma Gandhi. Reflecting on this, the parties expressed their aspiration that both Zuckerberg and Meta resonate with Gandhi's vision of a unified India.
Regarding Google, the INDIA bloc alluded to the Washington Post report, suggesting potential biases on YouTube, which might favor parties contributing to societal divisions. With the reach and influence of Google's platforms in India, the bloc underlined the necessity for neutrality, advocating for a stance that ensures no social discord and resonates with India's cherished democratic ideals.
In this evolving scenario, the primary focus of the opposition alliance is to secure a pledge from Meta and Google. A pledge ensuring their platforms, crucial in shaping public opinion, remain unbiased and work towards promoting social harmony in the face of the upcoming elections.