Reports earlier this year said Ankhi Das refused to remove anti-Muslim posts on the social media platform, sparking a political firestorm.
Facebook’s top Indian public policy chief, who was at the center of a controversy over her alleged failure to tackle hate speech on the platform, has resigned, the social media giant said on Tuesday.
The network sparked a political storm in India after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported in August that political leader Ankhi Das refused to remove anti-Muslim posts from a Hindu nationalist lawmaker because it could harm business interests of the company.
South Telangana state legislator T Raja Singh belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
In his Facebook posts, Singh demanded that Rohingya refugees be slaughtered, called Indian Muslims traitors and threatened to demolish mosques.
Facebook blocked him following the release of the WSJ report, which also detailed other BJP politicians and Hindu nationalist groups posting anti-Muslim hate speech.
India is the biggest market for the US-based company, with over 300 million users. Its messaging app, WhatsApp, has 400 million users in the world’s second most populous country.
However, the social media company is under pressure around the world due to the crackdown on hate speech.
An Indian parliamentary committee on information technology is also investigating the allegations.
Ajit Mohan, managing director of Facebook India, said Das was leaving Facebook “to pursue his interest in public service.”
“Ankhi was one of our first employees in India and has been instrumental in the growth of the business and its services over the past nine years,” Mohan said in a statement.
Time reports that Ankhi Das has been replaced, temporarily, by Shivnath Thukral.
Thukral worked on behalf of the BJP during the 2014 elections.
— Abhishek Baxi (@baxiabhishek) October 27, 2020
Mohan in September dismissed allegations that the Silicon Valley company had failed to respond to hate speech over business concerns, telling the Times of India newspaper that the company was doing everything possible to “keep away all kinds of platform damage”.
He said Das was not responsible for any rulings governing hate speech and that the public policy team was separate from the content policy team that enforces those rulings.
More than 40 rights groups around the world had written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September demanding that Das be sidelined pending the outcome of a civil rights audit.
According to Indian media, Das quit Facebook days after being questioned by Indian lawmakers about data privacy.