New Delhi: Facebook executive Ankhi Das, whose name came up in a recent debate over apparent bias by the social networking colossus in dealing with hate speeches, has left from the company. A statement by Ajith Mohan, Facebook India’s Managing Director, said: “Ankhi has determined to step down from her role in 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. She has been a part of my leadership team over the last two 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.”
Ms. Das’ resignation comes weeks after both the company and she encountered questions – both internally from employees and the Indian government over how political content is handled on the popular social media platform, which brags over 300 million users in the country.ySpeeches by BJP leaders that spread widely on these platforms ahead of the February violence in Delhi were cited. The Journal also said that an executive – who was later identified as Ms. Das proposed to the company that penalizing such violations by BJP workers “would damage its business prospects”.
According to a report by the Journal Ms. Das also “made internal postings over several years” naming her consent for the ruling BJP and criticizing its main rival – behavior some staff saw as conflicting with the company’s pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world. Facebook has demanded it lays hate speech rules uniformly and without consideration to political parties that may be involved, and that the posts by Ms. Das do not show inappropriate bias.” These posts are taken out of context and don’t convey the full scope of Facebook’s efforts to keep the use of our platform by parties across the political spectrum,” a spokesperson said.
The articles set off a violent row between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, with Rahul Gandhi and others naming them as evidence social media was being influenced by the government. An incensed Congress also wrote, twice, to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerber was called before a parliamentary panel chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, but instead of Ms.Das, Mr. Mohan twisted up to field questions. The company was also convened by the Peace and Harmony committee of the Delhi Assembly but did not emerge.
Last week Ms.Das appeared before a parliamentary panel over another matter worries over data privacy and was interrogated for nearly two hours, sources told.Facebook was told that it cannot use the personal data of citizens for “inferential” purposes in advertising or business or elections. MPs across parties reportedly asked specific questions on what percentage of Facebook’s revenue is spent on safeguards for data protection.