New Delhi: During the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, faces criticism for approving politically motivated advertisements containing hate speech and disinformation. According to a recent report, Meta approved several ads manipulated by Artificial Intelligence (AI), spreading disinformation and targeting specific demographics.

The report reveals that despite rejecting some ads, including one targeting Prime Minister Modi for misinformation, Meta approved others that targeted Muslims, violating its own policies on hate speech, bullying, harassment, misinformation, and violence incitement. These approved ads contained slurs against Muslims and Hindu supremacist language, further exacerbating tensions.

India Civil Watch International (ICWI) and Ekō, an accountability organization, submitted 22 ads to Meta, of which 14 were approved, highlighting the platform's failure to detect harmful content. Although Meta stated it requires advertisers to disclose their use of AI, critics argue that the platform lacks effective measures to address hate speech and disinformation.

Meta's history of failing to curb Islamophobia on its platforms adds to the skepticism regarding its ability to regulate harmful content during critical events like elections. With concerns over the proliferation of hate speech and disinformation online, questions arise about Meta's responsibility in safeguarding its users and ensuring a fair electoral process.

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Bengaluru, Jul 22: Karnataka Labour Minister Santosh Lad on Monday said the proposal to extend the working hours of employees in the IT/ITeS/BPO sector has come from the IT industry, and the government will take a decision after looking into opinions shared by all stakeholders including leaders in the field and employees.

Stating that the IT employees union has expressed their dissent, he urged industry veterans and captains to also come out and share their views.

The proposed 'Karnataka Shops and Commercial Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2024' seeks to normalise a 14-hour work day. The existing act only allows a maximum of 10 hours work per day including overtime.

"It is not the Minister who has brought himself (the proposed bill). The industry is pressurising. (They) are asking and they want it. Since there is pressure from the industry, the bill has come to us. We are still evaluating it at the Labour department. The question is for all the heads of the industry to discuss this," Lad said.

ALSO READ: Bengaluru IT sector to face 14-hour work day? Employees' Union expresses opposition

Speaking to reporters here, he said: "The matter is in open domain, people are free to discuss this. They (industry leaders) express (opinion) for every thing, so I want all the big heads (of the industry) to debate and express their view. There is dissent from IT employees. I want people to have their opinion. Based on that as a department we will look into what has to be done."

Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees' Union (KITU) that has urged the Siddaramaiah-led government to reconsider the plans to extend the working hours, strongly opposing the proposed amendment which, it said, poses an "attack on the basic right of any worker to have a personal life."

This amendment will allow the companies to go for a two shift system instead of the currently existing three shift system, and one third of the workforce will be thrown out from their employment, it claimed.

To a question on the impact of this proposed extended workers on the health, social and personal life of the employees, the Minister said: "Let the IT heads, the so-called big heads of the country, discuss. For everything they come out. I want the IT heads, IT company owners, Directors -- let them come and share their opinion, whether it is required or not.

The dissent is coming from the union, let the IT industry people, the heads have to speak about it positive or negative, and the government will look into what has to be done."

The IT industry is pressuring the government to go ahead with the proposal, he said. "Without their consent why would we do it suo moto. It is not done by any department, nor by the IT Minister. The pressure is from the IT industry itself, and that's how the proposal has come to us."

Asked as to why the government cannot say that they will not act on the proposal, considering the adverse impact it will have on the employees, the Minister said: "the government has done nothing. The proposal has come from the IT industry, it is good that it is in the public domain, definitely the government and my department in its wisdom will definitely take a call, but let people give their opinion."

Suhas Adiga, General Secretary of the Karnataka State IT/ITeS Employees Union, citing various reports regarding health implication of this proposed move, said as per the current understanding the employees might have to work 80-85 hours in a week.

"This cannot be accepted under any circumstances. We call upon all IT/ITeS Employees and their dependents or family members to come out and resist this," he added.

Targeting the government on the issue, state BJP President B Y Vijayendra said the Congress government in Karnataka has not only made a mockery of themselves but is "leaving no stone unturned to destroy everything in its way."

"While the Siddaramaiah govt itself is in a sleeping mode, it plans to propose a bill that will force the IT sector to work 14 Work Hours A Day, 70 A Week," he posted on 'X'.

"The Congress government (should) better worry about its own under-performing productivity, the collapsing state economy and degrading infrastructure before setting policies for a sector that's efficient & thriving," Vijayendra added.

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