Forty-one NGOs have written to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling for Ankhi Das, the company’s public policy head in India, to be sent on administrative leave till an ongoing human rights audit of Facebook India is complete.
The audit had reportedly been triggered by Wall Street Journal reports which showed Das had “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP, saying it would hurt the company’s business prospects in India. Das also supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the 2014 Indian general elections and openly talked of efforts to help the BJP win, saying the company “lit a fire” to Modi’s social media campaign, WSJ had reported.
Buzzfeed’s Pranav Dixit reported that Das had last month apologised to employees in the company for sharing a post in 2019 which called India’s Muslims a “degenerate community”. The post had been shared at a time the country was witnessing widespread protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
The non-governmental rights organisations from across the world, who wrote to Zuckerberg on Wednesday, demanded that Ankhi Das be removed from her role in the company “should the audit or investigation reinforce the details of The Wall Street Journal”.
Their letter said that the audit of Facebook India “must be removed entirely from the influence of the India office and jointly overseen by Menlo Park staff and civil society groups with expertise in Caste and Religious Bias.”
Time Magazine, which first reported on the audit in August, had said it was being conducted by the US law firm Foley Hoag and would include interviews with senior Facebook staff and members of civil society in India.
Signatories to the letter said that “mass riots in India spurred on by content posted on Facebook have been occurring for at least seven years.”
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