Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan Questioned by Parliamentary Panel Over Reluctance to Ban Bajrang Dal


Facebook’s India head Ajit Mohan deposed before a parliamentary panel on Wednesday and was questioned about a recent report that the social media giant is reluctant to ban the Bajrang Dal due to concerns over the security of its staff.

Mohan deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, chaired by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor. The panel had called him on the issue of the citizens’ data safety.

Mohan was accompanied by Shivnath Thukral, the public policy director of Facebook.

Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, along with Tharoor, questioned Mohan about a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on banning the Bajrang Dal on Facebook, sources said.

The WSJ report suggested that despite an internal assessment calling for a ban on the Bajrang Dal, Facebook has not cracked down on the Hindu nationalist group due to financial considerations and concerns over the safety of its employees.

On December 15, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during a chat Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani that India is a very special and important country with a remarkable entrepreneurship culture, as he sought to push deeper the just-launched payments services that allow users to make payments over WhatsApp.

Last month, Facebook-owned WhatsApp received approval from the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) for rolling out its payments services in India. In 2018, WhatsApp started testing its UPI-based payments services in India, a global first, with about a million users.

“We just launched WhatsApp payments in India last month, now you can send money to your friends and family through WhatsApp, as easily as sending a message. That was possible because of the UPI system that has been built in India,” Zuckerberg said. He added that the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) makes it easy for anyone to instantly accept payments across different apps.

Referring to late Dhirubhai Ambani’s vision of affordable connectivity in the country, Zuckerberg said, “… today Indians can communicate with one another for less than the cost of a postcard and that’s what we’ve tried to do with messaging… and hopefully we can do that together with payments and make it so people can use India’s new UPI system, which I think is just great”.

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