An Indian man says Facebook sent representatives to his physical home to verify whether he posted certain political content on the platform, highlighting more concerns about privacy and freedom of speech.
A man living in New Delhi, India, who says he made political posts on the platform, claims he had a representative from Facebook show up at his residence to ask questions about the post. It is believed the company took this action as part of its ongoing fight against “fake news,” and that it is the first known instance of Facebook appearing at someone’s physical address to determine the veracity of posts.
Top legal experts in India seem to consider the possible invasion of privacy unprecedented, and believe it could open Facebook to legal recourse.
“This action, if true, clearly infringes upon the privacy of a user. Sending a representative to physically verify a user is a blatant invasion of his or her privacy space. Only the state can act like this under proper laws,” Pavan Duggal, the country’s top cyber law expert and a senior Supreme Court advocate, told IANS.
Facebook, Duggal said, can at best discontinue a Page, Group or delete the post, or remove the user from its platform as it has done so in the past. When it comes to those who wants to run political ads on Facebook, the company verifies residency of advertisers either by physical verification (by sending someone to the address provided) or by sending a code in the post.
The article also notes that Duggal considers the move a “gross violation,” and “unwarranted under the ambit of the Information Technology Act, 2000,” quoting Duggal as saying “In such a scenario, the user can sue Facebook and even the government for allowing such activities under its nose that infringes on the privacy of a user.”
As Facebook attempts to stamp out fake news in India, which is the world’s largest democracy, the country quickly approaches an important election on April 11.