Facebook public policy director for India, South and Central Asia Ankhi Das steps down

A WSJ report kicked up political storm as the ruling BJP and Congress traded barbs over Facebook's alleged bias towards the ruling dispensation
Last Updated 28 October 2020, 03:59 IST

After months of controversies over non-application of restrictions on hate speech by right-wing leaders, Ankhi Das, Facebook's Director, Public Policy, India, South and Central Asia, quit the company.

"Ankhi has decided 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 9 years," Facebook's managing director India Ajit Mohan said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.

“She has been a part of my leadership team over the last 2 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," Mohan said.

Das's resignation came about two-and-a-half-months after she first shot into the limelight after allegations of opposing enforcement of hate-speech rules against BJP and other right-wing leaders.

The controversy around her began on August 15 when The Wall Street Journal report alleged that Das had blocked action against leaders associated with the BJP and other Hindutva groups fearing business loss to the US-based company.

According to the report, a day before the BJP won the 2014 Parliamentary elections, Ms Das had written: “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.”

Though the US-based social media giant denied the allegation that it selectively applied rules to curb hate posts on its platform, over 40 human rights and internet watchdog organisations had called on Facebook to place Das on leave until the company finishes conducting an ongoing audit of its India operations.

Das, who had joined Facebook in 2011, in her statement, said she had decided to step down from Facebook “to pursue my personal interest in public service“.

“When I joined Facebook in 2011, internet growth in the country was woefully low and I often wondered how social and economic asymmetries will be addressed. We were a small unlisted start-up back then guided only by our mission and purpose to connect people in India. After nine long years, I feel that mission has largely been met,” she said.

Facebook, which said October 27 was her last day in the company, did not link her departure to stories around her controversial stand.

“I have decided to step down from Facebook after long service to its mission of connecting people and building communities to pursue my personal interest in public service,” she said in her departure message.

(Published 27 October 2020, 13:28 IST)

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