BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya said on Thursday, 27 October, that he has decided to initiate criminal proceedings against The Wire, days after the news outlet retracted its exclusive reports on Meta's XCheck programme and issued an apology to its readers.
The statement tweeted out from Malviya's official account read, "After consultation with my lawyers and seeking their advise, I have decided to file criminal and civil proceedings, against 'The Wire.'"
The Wire's reports had alleged that Instagram took down anti-government posts by an anonymous account, '@cringearchivist', only because it had been flagged by Amit Malviya and for no other reason. It had made these claims based on a purported internal report and an email supposedly provided by The Wire's "sources within Meta."
"Not only will I be setting the criminal process in motion but I will also sue them in a civil court seeking damages as they forged documents with a view to malign and tarnish my reputation," Malviya added.
Amid mounting questions on the authenticity of its reports and alleged lapses in its verification processes from independent technical experts, The Wire undertook an internal review which eventually led to a full retraction and a formal apology after midnight on Thursday, 27 October.
What Did The Wire's Apology Say?
Interestingly, the apology suggested that the retracted reports were a "deception" perpetrated by a member of The Wire's Meta investigation team. The post was updated a day later to add that this 'team member' no longer had ties with the news organisation.
"...one clear editorial learning which can already be stated with certainty is that complex technical evidence – whether brought by someone who is part of the newsroom or a freelancer – and all verification processes that involve technical skill, must be cross-checked by independent and reputed experts in the field," it said.
"Had we done this before publication rather than after the fact, this would have ensured that the deception to which we were subjected by a member of our Meta investigation team was spotted in time," The Wire added.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone was among those who dismissed The Wire's XCheck report, pointing out that the evidence "appears to be fabricated." Shortly after, the tech giant's chief information security officer Guy Rosen put out a tweet thread that further denied the accusations for being "outlandish".
Meta later officially and categorically denied the allegations in a statement on its website. The big tech firm had added that an investigation from its end was ongoing and that it will provide updates "as it unfolds."
'Tech Evidence More Complicated'
Hours after Malviya announced his decision to sue, The Wire issued a second statement reiterating that it was deceived by a staffer either at his own will or someone else's. "The malintent to discredit The Wire is obvious," the news organisation added.
"Technological evidence is more complicated and the usual due diligence may not always reveal the fraud perpetrated upon a publication. This is what happened to us."The Wire
(Update, 28 October: This post was updated with The Wire's reaction to Malviya's statement.)