The company has failed to provide resources to contain extremist and inflammatory content in India and beyond.

Big oil executives insisted they have not misled the public about the link between fossil fuels and climate change.

German universities are bowing to China’s censorship. That could finally change under the new government.

South Asia in short:

Facebook has a blind spot in South Asia

Facebook has a blind spot in the south …

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Michael Kugelmann

This week’s highlights: New Facebook revelations reveal the company’s failure in South Asia, the Pakistani economy is stuttering, and China and Bhutan are getting closer to resolving a border dispute.

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This week’s highlights: New Facebook revelations reveal the company’s failure in South Asia, the Pakistani economy is stuttering, and China and Bhutan are getting closer to resolving a border dispute.

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Facebook documents recently leaked by corporate whistleblower Frances Haugen describe the longstanding failure of social media -Giants to curb hate speech. After Haugen’s appearances before US lawmakers and a committee in the British Parliament, much of the debate revolved around the impact of Facebook’s policy in the West. But Facebook has also failed in South Asia – and in a more dangerous way at an even higher cost than in the West.

Religious intolerance, powerful hate groups and fast internet penetration have created a perfect storm for the spread of hate speech across the region and especially in India created. In many South Asian countries, Facebook is the most widely used social network. But the company hasn’t built the capacity to thoroughly monitor hate speech in South Asian languages. Inflammatory content that has mobilized mobs and provoked deadly violence is often not removed. These failures also strengthen hard-line political parties for whom divisive rhetoric makes political sense, including India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

India is Facebook’s largest market by users and remains one of its fastest growing markets . As a result, it’s also the epicenter of the company’s problems with hate speech. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook researchers found inflammatory content that coincided with community riots in 2020 that killed 53 people in New Delhi. Individual users, extremist groups and political parties regularly gain importance by sharing hate speech and misinformation on the platform, especially against Muslims.

This trend dates back to 2015, when a Hindu nationalist met a Muslim worker in the Indian state Uttar Pradesh flogged as people filmed the incident and uploaded it to Facebook, where it received praise from like-minded users. Months later, the vigilante became head of state of Bajrang Dal, a Hindu nationalist youth militant group.

Facebook lacks both the capacity and the will to adequately monitor hate speech in South Asia. Inflammatory content often goes undetected because the company’s monitoring software cannot handle local languages. In India, Facebook has also refused to crack down on ruling party politicians who publish hate speech for fear of affecting its business prospects in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported last year.

Also personal relationships between the company and political leaders Might Play a Role: Bloomberg reported on the close ties between Facebook executives and Indian government officials, including Facebook’s own efforts to build the “online presence” of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The company’s former chief public order officer in India has also been charged with supporting the BJP.

Such revelations fuel suspicions that Facebook gives the Indian ruling party an electoral advantage, albeit indirectly. On the eve of India’s 2019 election, which the BJP won landslide, Facebook announced that it had removed fake content related to the opposition Indian National Congress Party but not the BJP. In light of Haugen’s revelations, the Indian National Congress Party this week called for an investigation to investigate evidence that Facebook “influences” the Indian elections.

However, the relationship between Modi’s government and Facebook is no longer what it used to be was. During Modi’s first term in office, he met Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg twice. That wouldn’t happen today: earlier this year, WhatsApp sued the government over new internet laws allegedly threatening user privacy. However, critics still suspect the platform remains biased against the BJP. During the COVID-19 crisis, a campaign with #ResignModi on Facebook was temporarily blocked, adding to this sentiment.

Facebook’s outages in the region are not limited to India. In 2019, Muslims rioted near their capital Dhaka in Bangladesh in response to a derogatory Facebook post about the Prophet Mohammed, killing four people. Earlier this month, two men admitted to inciting violence against the Hindu community by posting inflammatory content on social media.

In Sri Lanka, an investigation by a human rights group found anti-Muslim hate speech and fake news on Facebook and Other platforms may have contributed to violent clashes in central Sri Lanka in 2018, killing at least three people, damaging mosques and Muslim businesses. Rioters are said to have used Facebook to coordinate attacks.

And in Pakistan, people have used the platform to incite hatred against the Ahmadi religious minority, resulting in “rampages” that resulted in burned houses and deaths . In 2018, a Pakistani teenager killed an Ahmadi man after he posted a video on Facebook saying that the Prophet Mohammed ordered him to “finish off” the man. Facebook only removed the video after the rest of the world reported on it.

The online hate speech epidemic in South Asia is not entirely Facebook’s fault. The company is not responsible for any conditions that create incompatibilities in the region. Governments can also do more to improve social media literacy so that users can better distinguish between correct and fake news. Unfortunately, in a region that has taken an authoritarian turn, many governments have instead exploited concerns about unregulated online content to counter dissenting opinions.

Nonetheless, Facebook has a major crisis at hand: it’s a platform on who can spread hate speech far and wide. There are nearly half a billion Facebook users in South Asia, including more than 340 million users in India. Dhaka has the second largest number of active Facebook users of any city in the world. (Those numbers rise even higher when Facebook’s own services like WhatsApp are factored in.) South Asia offers great opportunities for Facebook, but against a backdrop of religious intolerance and communal tensions, it looks like a powder keg.

Facebook’s first assignment in South Asia should be to devote more resources to addressing the problem. Only 13 percent of the Facebook budget used to classify misinformation is currently set aside outside of the United States. Given the huge number of Facebook users and misinformation in South Asia alone, that’s insane – which suggests the company just doesn’t understand how big the problem is in South Asia.

October 31 to November 12: Glasgow , Scotland, is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which is expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

November 3: The Stimson Center hosts a webinar on South Asian security issues with emerging analysts from the region.

Pakistan’s economy is boiling. The skyrocketing prices in Pakistan have shaken the economy. Local media reported that inflation was at its highest level in 70 years. Government figures released this week show that electricity prices have risen nearly 60 percent over the past three years, and ghee and sugar prices have risen 108 percent and 83 percent, respectively.

The government makes the global Inflation was responsible, but Pakistan recently suffered two more blows. It did not succeed in reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund on the release of the next funds in connection with an urgently needed rescue package. Meanwhile, the Financial Action Task Force, a global watchdog for terrorist financing, has announced that it will keep Pakistan on its watchlist, which could make it difficult to attract foreign investment.

But some relief comes: Saudi Arabia has it Week approved a $ 4.2 billion aid package for Pakistan – including $ 3 billion in cash and $ 1.2 billion in oil.

Growing threat in Afghanistan. While Afghanistan faces a humanitarian crisis, it also faces the threat posed by the Islamic State of Khorasan. The extremist group has had a presence in the country since 2015 but has stepped up its attacks to undermine the Taliban’s efforts to consolidate power, including the recent mass attacks on mosques involving victims. And it could get stronger. Discontented Taliban foot soldiers could shift their loyalty to the Islamic State Khorasan, and security experts fear that some former Afghan military personnel might do the same.

The Taliban downplay the threat posed by the Islamic State Khorasan in their public embassies. But they will not eliminate it easily, especially if they are busy with the task of moving from insurrection to government. External efforts are underway. Last week, the Washington Post reported that Pakistan is sharing Islamic State and Khorasan intelligence with the Taliban.

Mohammad Hafeez of Pakistan celebrates with his teammate Mohammad Rizwan during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup game between Pakistan and New Zealand in the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in the United Arab Emirates on October 26th. Alex Davidson / Getty Images

Cricket fever. In cricket-mad South Asia, few events cause more excitement than international tournaments. This year’s T20 World Cup, hosted by the United Arab Emirates, has frenzied Pakistanis since it began last weekend. On Sunday, the national team defeated the heavily favored Indian team – the first time Pakistan had beaten its rival at a World Cup. And on Tuesday, Pakistan beat New Zealand. (The Kiwis upset Pakistan last month when the team canceled a scheduled game in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, shortly before it was due to start.) The sentimental favorite of the tournament is Afghanistan, who beat Scotland on Monday and face Pakistan on Friday will. Even some Pakistani fans have said they could live with defeat to Afghans because the country deserves to celebrate at such a difficult moment.

On October 14, Bhutan signed a letter of intent with China in which a three-step process to settle the disputed border is called for. In recent years, Beijing has rapidly expanded its presence in South Asia, including in countries with historical ties to New Delhi. Trade and investment fueled most of these advances, but some were military moves.

In June 2017, efforts by Chinese forces to expand a road construction project to a border area claimed by China and Bhutan prompted Indian troops to invade the area. A two-month shutdown followed. If the MOU leads to a settlement of border disputes, it will significantly strengthen the relationship between Bhutan and China and create more opportunities for Chinese investment.

That would put India in a disadvantageous position, especially as its own relationship with China after the fatal one The border conflict in Ladakh last year is on hold. Despite a few troop withdrawals, negotiations to end the Indo-Chinese border tensions have failed.

“If the United States and the rest of the world share information with us, we could defeat Daesh in a few days.”

– A high-ranking one Taliban leaders told the Washington Post that the group welcomed outside help to combat the Islamic State terrorist group – a claim that other Taliban leaders have denied.

In the Dhaka Tribune, journalist Mahmudur Rahman lamented, ” diabolical politicians ”and“ power-hungry religious fanatics ”undermine efforts to achieve peaceful harmony in Bangladesh. He calls on local communities to “reach out to Hindu believers and rebuild faith in humanity” after the recent religious violence.

The writer Upul Wijayawardhana complains about misrepresentations and errors in an article for the island Buddhism in the Sri Lankan press. “Buddhist principles are distorted and destroyed while the authorities are asleep. … I often ask myself whether the future of Buddhism lies in the West! ”He writes.

The journalist Leena Misra writes for the Indian Express about the Garba, an Indian dance. Although Garba public events have faced challenges recently due to community tensions and the coronavirus pandemic, she is confident that the dance will continue to be popular. When the Indian government of Gujarat state recently hosted a garba event, “dance returned with a vengeance,” she writes.

Michael Kugelman is the author of Foreign Policy’s weekly South Asia Letter. He is Associate Director of the Asia Program and Senior Associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington. Twitter: @michaelkugelman

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