An internal research memo has revealed that Facebook researchers had flagged communal violence and “vigilante violence” against students in Delhi, violence linked to the citizenship law protests in Lucknow, religious antagonisms, violence against North Indian migrants in Mumbai, and Bangladeshi migrants in Kolkata, as “salient conflicts”, the Indian Express .
These issues were flagged based on posts and site visits focused on key Indian cities.
The report also claims that participants surveyed during the field visit reported “demonising anti-Muslim content connected to CAA protests and Delhi riots”.
The memo also lists the Delhi riots of 2020 and the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act as “violent crisis events in India,” adding that these created an “environment of risk for offline harms”.
“Police violence associated with CAA protests (e.g. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh) meet our human rights definition of civil unrest… Inflammatory content spiked during the peak of these protests in late 2019,” the memo noted. It added that Facebook internally designated the Delhi riots as “a hate event, acknowledging vulnerable group risks”.
Based on a survey from the field visit, the memo also highlighted that “Hindu and Muslim participants felt more comfortable sharing harmful content when they believed only other members of their religion would see it”. WhatsApp groups were most often cited as a more “comfortable space” for both communities.
According to a memo titled ‘Communal Conflict in India’, approximately one in three users of apps owned by Meta (Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Messenger), who were surveyed “reported seeing inflammatory content within seven days or in more than seven days”.
These findings are part of documents that have been disclosed by former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower Frances Haugen and were previously presented to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.