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HomeTechAnkhi Das quits as Facebook India policy head to 'pursue public service'

Ankhi Das quits as Facebook India policy head to ‘pursue public service’

Ankhi Das became the centre of a controversy after a Wall Street Journal article in August alleged she turned a blind eye to hate speech posts by BJP leaders on Facebook.

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New Delhi: Ankhi Das, Facebook’s public policy director for India, South and Central Asia, has stepped down from her role months after a news report alleged that she had turned a blind eye to hate speech posts of BJP politicians.

Facebook made the announcement Tuesday, saying Das was now going 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. 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,” said Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, Facebook India, in a press statement.

Das became the central figure in a hate speech controversy after a 14 August Wall Street Journal report alleged that she had convinced Facebook to not take action against politicians from the BJP whose content on the platform flouted hate speech rules since it might hurt the company’s business prospects in the country.

Speaking to ThePrint, a Facebook insider said Das’ decision to leave had nothing to do with the controversy. The insider also indicated that Facebook would not have fired Das after defending her.

“The timing may be awkward and people may try to link her leaving with what has been reported in the press, but we all know Ankhi has always had (an) interest in public service, and her leaving has nothing do with what has happened recently.”


Also read: It’s not personal, just business — Facebook-WSJ controversy isn’t unique to India, BJP


In the weeks that followed the WSJ report, Das and Facebook came under severe public scrutiny, with Das even filing a complaint with the Delhi Police alleging she was receiving death threats.

Facebook India head Ajit Mohan later issued a statement saying the company’s policies are not defined or dictated by any one executive but is part of a constantly evolving process.

The issue turned political, and Mohan was even summoned by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by Shashi Tharoor.

In another report, dated 30 August, WSJ claimed that the BJP didn’t follow Facebook’s transparency requirements for political ads, but the social media giant chose to ignore it.


Also read: Why should I apologise? Have right to opinion, says BJP MLA in WSJ-Facebook controversy


 

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