Ankhi Das, Facebook public public policy director for India, South, and Central Asia has quit the company, two months after a Wall Street Journal report that she intervened to shield hate speech by a BJP leader and showed favoritism towards the ruling party. Das had reportedly shielded at least another three Hindu nationalists and groups that were flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence. She is reportedly leaving to pursue her interest in public service, per TechCrunch, which first reported her departure.
According to WSJ’s reports in August, Das’s intervention was part of a broader pattern of favoritism by Facebook towards the BJP and Hindu nationalists. The findings blew holes into Facebook’s claims of being neutral in governing content, without favour to any group or powers. The BJP leader in question, T. Raja Singh, had said that Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors, and threatened to burn down mosques. In the fallout of the Journal’s reports, Singh was permanently removed from Facebook and Instagram.
Soon after the reports, Facebook India’s head Ajit Mohan had reiterated claims that the company was non-partisan and transparent. Without referring to Das, Mohan had said that decisions around content takedowns were not taken unilaterally by “just one person”. In a subsequent story, the WSJ reported that Das had posted messages in a company group supporting the BJP and disparaging opposition leaders. Das later apologised to Muslim employees of Facebook in an internal email. Over forty NGOs demanded Das’s suspension from her role in the aftermath of the reports.