NEW DELHI • A top Facebook executive in India has filed a police complaint in New Delhi, saying she is receiving death threats following a media report that said she and the US social network company allegedly favoured Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party.
Ms Ankhi Das, Facebook’s top public-policy executive in India, said in her complaint to Delhi police that some individuals online had “intentionally vilified” her due to their political affiliations and were engaging in abuse, Indian media reported.
Ms Das has said the threats followed a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report last week that said she opposed applying Facebook’s hate-speech rules to a member of Mr Modi’s party and some other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.
“I am extremely disturbed by the relentless harassment meted out to me,” Ms Das said in her complaint, according to India’s Hindu newspaper.
A spokesman for the Delhi police did not respond to calls and text messages from Reuters.
Ms Das and Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the police complaint. Facebook yesterday referred Reuters to a weekend statement that said it prohibited hate speech irrespective of one’s political position but acknowledged, “there is more to do”.
The WSJ article has sparked a political storm in India and raised questions about Facebook’s content regulation practices. Ms Das had told staff that punishing violations by politicians from Mr Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”, the WSJ article said.
For Facebook, which has over 300 million users in India, the controversy comes months after it invested US$5.7 billion (S$7.8 billion) in the digital unit of India’s Reliance Industries.
The company was also seen as close to receiving permission to launch a payments service on WhatsApp, which also counts India as its biggest market with more than 400 million users.
India’s main opposition Congress has seized on the WSJ story to seek a parliamentary investigation of Facebook employees’ alleged ties with Mr Modi’s BJP.
BJP lawmakers in turn accused Facebook of censoring nationalist voices.