31/08/2020 11:04 AM IST | Updated 31/08/2020 2:22 PM IST

Facebook's Ankhi Das Supported Modi, BJP, Openly Talked Of Efforts To Help Them Win 2014 Election: Report

In one post, Das reportedly called Modi a "strongman" and said, “It’s taken thirty years of grassroots work to rid India of state socialism finally.”

Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images
Ankhi Das, Public Policy Director, Facebook India and South & Central Asia, during an interview at her office on March 3, 2014 in New Delhi.

Facebook India executive Ankhi Das posted messages of her support for BJP for several years on a Facebook group of the company’s employees and detailed efforts to help the party win the 2014 national election, the Wall Street Journal said in its latest report.

Das is the company’s policy director for India and South and Central Asia and has been at the centre of widespread criticism Facebook faced after WSJ’s previous report revealed she had opposed applying hate-speech rules to some Hindu nationalist individuals and groups, as well as posts by a BJP politician.

The Journal said Das had told staff members that punishing violations by politicians from Modi’s party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country.”

WSJ’s August 30 report says Das’s posts supporting the ruling party were made between 2012 and 2014 on a group which had several hundred employees as members. The Facebook group was reportedly designed for employees in India, but was open to the company’s workers globally. 

The report quotes a message by Das posted the day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the 2014 in India: “We lit a fire to his social media campaign and the rest is of course history.”

In a separate post on Congress’s defeat, Das called Modi a “strongman” and said “It’s taken thirty years of grassroots work to rid India of state socialism finally.”

WSJ’s report says Das called Facebook’s top global elections official Katie Harbath her “longest fellow traveler” in the company’s work with Modi’s campaign.

After the Journal’s first report on Das and Facebook India favouring BJP, the company’s India head Ajit Mohan wrote an online post saying the platform was “open, transparent and non-partisan”.

Last week, Buzzfeed reported that Das had apologised to Muslim employees in the company for sharing a post on her Facebook page which called Muslims in India a “degenerate community” for whom “nothing except purity of religion and implementation of Shariah matter”.

Reuters reported that several employees had raised questions about whether the company’s India team was following adequate procedures and content regulation practices.

An open letter written to Facebook’s leadership by 11 employees on one internal platform, and seen by Reuters, demanded company leaders acknowledge and denounce “anti-Muslim bigotry” and ensure more policy consistency.

Facebook India’s top executives, including Anki Das, are expected to appear before a Parliamentary panel on information technology led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday. They will reportedly be questioned on how the social media platform regulates content in India.