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What is going on with Meta’s moderation controversy in India?

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Original Source: The Verge


Meta — Facebook and Instagram’s parent company — was at the center of controversy in India, where a local publication claimed the company removed an Instagram post on behalf of an Indian politician. Meta pushed back on these claims and accused the outlet of using “fabricated” evidence, and it’s starting to look like that may be the case.

After Meta and several experts online found inconsistencies in The Wire’s reporting, the outlet decided to suspend access to its stories on October 18th and conduct an “internal review” of the documents it used as evidence. It later retracted its report on October 23rd due to “certain discrepancies” that emerged in its reporting.

It’s an unusually difficult story to keep track of, drawing on the nuances of Indian politics, email forensics, and Meta’s contentious relationship with the press. So we’ve boiled down the last couple weeks of chaos into a simple recap of what’s happened and why it matters.


What’s going on here?


On October 6th, independent Indian news publication The Wire published an article about how Instagram incorrectly took down a satirical image of a man worshipping Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. The owner of the account, @cringearchivist, says Instagram removed the post for violating its “sexual activity and nudity” policies, even though it did not contain sexual activity or nudity.

Many had assumed the post was flagged due to a glitch in some automated system, but The Wire said this wasn’t true. An internal source at Meta reportedly told The Wire the company removed the post at the request of Amit Malviya, the head of the information technology cell at India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (or BJP), but holes in The Wire’s reporting make these allegations questionable.

Meta has since denied The Wire’s report. It accuses the outlet of spreading false information and has attempted to debunk the “fabricated evidence” provided by The Wire’s source, stating that it hopes The Wire “is the victim of this hoax, not the perpetrator.” After adamantly defending its claims, The Wire has taken the responses from Meta and users online into account and said it’s going to “review its reporting on Meta.” The outlet later made the decision to retract its story entirely due to various inconsistencies in the documents it initially presented as evidence, which we’ll go over below.

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