Facebook India’s Ankhi Das Quits After Hate Speech Controversy

Ankhi Das was accused of shielding hate speech posts by BJP MLA in a news report by the Wall Street Journal.

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Facebook Inc’s public policy director for India, South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das, has stepped down to pursue interests in public service, the company said in a statement on Tuesday, 27 October.

Das, who was embroiled in a major allegations of shielding hate speech posts by BJP MLA from Hyderabad, T Raja Singh, set off a global outcry against Facebook amid calls to remove her from the company.

“Ankhi has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service,” Ajit Mohan, Vice President & Managing Director of Facebook India said in a statement on Tuesday.

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. 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.”
Ajit Mohan, Vice President & Managing Director, Facebook India

Das Accused of Shielding BJP MLA’s Hate Speech

Between 14 August and 1 September, a string of major allegations have emerged against Facebook’s India operations and its top executives.

Wall Street Journal’s report on 14 August claims that despite the insistence of Facebook’s employees – responsible for policing the platform – to permanently ban the profile of BJP MP from Hyderabad T Raja Singh for promoting hate speech, the company’s top Public Policy Executive in India, Das, blocked applying hate speech rules to Singh.

According to the report, Das told staff members “that punishing violations by politicians from Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in the country, Facebook’s biggest global market by number of users.”

Pro-BJP Messages in Internal Facebook Groups

A week after allegations of opposing enforcement of hate speech rules against BJP and other Hindutva leaders, Das had also been accused of posting messages in support of the BJP for several years on a Facebook group of the company’s employees.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, her posts had even detailed her efforts to help the saffron party win the 2014 national elections.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) accessed postings of Das on Facebook's internal communications systems that were perceived to be openly supportive of the BJP.

“We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history,” she wrote on the group. “It’s taken thirty years of grassroots work to rid India of state socialism finally,” read another post by her.

FIR Against Das

The Quint had reported, on 17 August, that Chhattisgarh’s Raipur Police had registered an FIR against Das on a slew of charges under the Indian Penal Code, including outraging religious feelings and incitement to violence.

The complaint, filed by Chhattisgarh-based journalist Awesh Tiwari and accessed by The Quint, alleges that Das had “pressured her employees to not take down several hate speech posts prior to the Lok Sabha elections.” This was done “to make political gains in the Indian market.”

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