Facebook's India policy chief quits after hate speech claims

Published October 28, 2020
Ankhi Das, Facebook's former public policy director for India, South & Central Asia, is seen on her Facebook page in this illustration picture taken August 19, 2020. — Reuters/File
Ankhi Das, Facebook's former public policy director for India, South & Central Asia, is seen on her Facebook page in this illustration picture taken August 19, 2020. — Reuters/File

Facebook's top India public policy executive, who was at the centre of a row over the alleged failure to address hate speech on the platform, has quit, the social media giant said on Wednesday.

The network sparked a political storm in India after the Wall Street Journal reported in August that policy chief Ankhi Das refused to take down anti-Muslim comments by a Hindu nationalist lawmaker as it could damage the firm's business interests.

India is the biggest market for the US-based company and its messaging service WhatsApp in terms of users, and the firm is under pressure worldwide over the policing of hate speech.

Ajit Mohan, Facebook India's managing director, said Das was leaving 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 nine years,” Mohan said in a statement.

Mohan in September rejected allegations the Silicon Valley firm failed to act on hate speech over business concerns, telling the Times of India that the company was doing everything possible to “keep all kinds of harm away from the platform”.

He said Das was not responsible for any decisions governing hate speech and that the public policy team was separate from the content policy team that enforces such decisions.

More than 40 rights groups worldwide had written a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in September demanding that Das be sidelined, pending the outcome of a civil rights audit.

Opinion

Editorial

More leaks
Updated 29 Sep, 2022

More leaks

Recent leaks look more like an inside job than the work of a foreign power.
A depressing winter
29 Sep, 2022

A depressing winter

WINTER is on its way, with a massive gas crunch looming as elevated global LNG prices have eroded the cash-strapped...
Great expectations
29 Sep, 2022

Great expectations

CONSIDERING that the Afghan Taliban have been in the saddle for over a year now, the UN has expressed frustration...
The whole truth
28 Sep, 2022

The whole truth

THE war on truth has never been more relentless than it is today. Authoritarianism is on the rise and purveyors of...
Real-world trolls
Updated 28 Sep, 2022

Real-world trolls

It's reprehensible how PTI supporters now seem convinced that politicians from opposing camps aren't entitled to basic dignity.
Islamabad wildlife
28 Sep, 2022

Islamabad wildlife

PRESERVING biodiversity is low on the list of priorities of both state and society. However, successful attempts at...