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

Is it child abuse?
24 Sep 2021

Is it child abuse?

The SNC’s language mix doesn’t address our children’s emotional needs.
The gathering storm
Updated 24 Sep 2021

The gathering storm

The growing US-China rivalry has transformed the geopolitical scene, in particular the Asian strategic landscape.
New realities and challenges
Updated 23 Sep 2021

New realities and challenges

Will the Afghan Taliban entrust to the UN the responsibility of receiving and disbursing all aid?

Editorial

24 Sep 2021

Costs of growth

IS Pakistan’s growth party over? Not yet. But both the State Bank and government are now cutting down on the items...
Smear campaign
Updated 24 Sep 2021

Smear campaign

It is commendable that the government has taken the matter as seriously as it has, and delved deep into cyber investigations.
24 Sep 2021

Rising dengue cases

THE dengue monster is once again rearing its head in different cities of Punjab. More than 820 cases have surfaced ...
Dialogue, at last
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Dialogue, at last

The govt has attempted to make the ECP controversial at a time when its input is critical for the poll reforms
AUKUS controversy
Updated 23 Sep 2021

AUKUS controversy

Instead of flexing its military muscle, the Western bloc needs to engage China at the negotiating table.
Provocative act
Updated 23 Sep 2021

Provocative act

Afghan Taliban flags have been found hoisted at Jamia Hafsa seminary three times since Aug 21.