The public policy director of Facebook India on Sunday filed a complaint with the Delhi Police Cyber Cell unit after she allegedly received threats and offensive messages on social media, NDTV reported.
A controversy erupted after an article published by The Wall Street Journal on August 14 reported that Ankhi Das opposed the idea of removing incendiary posts by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, warning that this could hurt the company’s “commercial interests” in India. Das had also not revealed that Facebook had deleted fake news pages connected to the saffron party, according to the report.
The 49-year-old woman has linked the alleged threats to the publication of the WSJ report. Das has sought police protection and called for immediate arrest of the accused named by her.
“Since the evening of August 14, 2020, I have been receiving violent threats to my life and body, and I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me by the accused persons,” Das said in her complaint. “The content, which even includes my photograph is evidently threatening to my life and body and I fear for my safety as well as that of my family members. The content also maligns my reputation based on a news article and I am subjected to name-calling, cyber bullying and eve-teasing online.”
The Facebook executive said the accused have intentionally targeted her due to their political affiliations. “I am under constant fear and threat, especially being a woman,” Das added. “The perpetrators are deliberately operating through online accounts to hide their identity and to further spread misinformation and incite violence against me to meet their agenda. The above threats are in relation to an article dated August 14, 2020, published in Wall Street Journal and further published in a mischaracterised and distorted manner in India by various publications and further widely circulated on social media.”
The four-page complaint registered by Das also mentioned Facebook and Twitter handles of the people who have been accused of sending her threats. The police said they have started an investigation.
Das said the first information report should be filed under Sections 354A (making sexually coloured remarks), 499/500 (defamation through publication of words intending to cause harm to reputation), 506 (criminal intimidation to cause death or grievous hurt), 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code.
Facebook, the largest social media company in the world, which also owns WhatsApp, on Monday said the company prohibited hate speech and content that incited violence and enforced these policies globally without regard to anyone’s political position or party affiliation.
The Congress on Sunday called for a parliamentary panel to investigate what it said was favourable treatment by employees of Facebook overseeing Indian content. After that, Congress MP and Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology chairperson Shashi Tharoor said they would like to hear from Facebook about the report.