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Facebook India’s top executive Ankhi Das quits

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A top executive in Facebook India, Ankhi Das, has resigned from the social media giant.  Ankhi Das was the director of public policy for India, South and Central Asia regions of Facebook operations. She was facing criticism for bypassing Facebook’s content moderation policy with regard to hate speeches, especially when it comes to BJP leaders.

Ankhi Das’s resignation comes weeks after both the company and she herself faced questions—both internally from employees and from the Indian government—over how political content is regulated on the popular social media platform. Notably, Facebook has over 300 million users in the country.

Facebook India MD issues statement

However, Facebook has downplayed the controversy and claimed that Ankhi Das’s exit from the company had nothing to do with the hate speech controversy. Facebook claimed that Ankhi Das has quit to pursue her interest in public service.

A statement was issued by the managing director of Facebook India, Ajit Mohan, in this regard. The statement provides: “Ankhi has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service. Ankhi was one of our earliest employees in India and played an instrumental role in the growth of the company and its services over the last 9 years.”

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“She has been a part of my leadership team over the last 2 years, a role in which she has made enormous contributions. We are grateful for her service and wish her the very best for the future,” the statement added.

The controversy

In August, articles by The Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine – alleged Facebook (and messaging service WhatsApp, which it owns) did not apply hate speech rules uniformly.

Speeches by BJP leaders that circulated widely on these platforms ahead of the February violence in Delhi were cited.

The Wall Street Journal also said that an executive— who was later identified as Ankhi Das— suggested to the company that punishing such violations by BJP workers “would damage (its) business prospects”.

According to a second report by the Wall Street Journal Ankhi Das also “made internal postings over several years” detailing her support for the ruling BJP and disparaging its main rival—a  behaviour some staff saw as conflicting with the company’s pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world.

Following the foreign media reports, the Opposition launched an attack on the Union government, whereas the Union government launched an attack on Facebook.

 

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