Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platform, claimed that a report in The Wire, which suggested BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya was part of the company’s controversial XCheck program, was “inaccurate” and appeared to be based in “manufactured” documentation.
Meta has publicly made the very serious allegation that The Wire irresponsibly published two widely circulated articles based on fabricated documents, and The Wire has responded by digging its heels fully into the sand.
The news portal reported that Meta’s claims were in contrast to an internal email asking its employees “how the hell” the same document had been “leaked”.
The dispute began Monday when The Wire published what appeared to be an explosive story: that a top official in India’s ruling party did indeed have the ability to unilaterally delete Instagram posts. Later that day, however, Meta spokesman Andy Stone poured cold water on him.
Specifically, Stone went so far as to say that “the underlying documentation” in the story seemed “fabricated”. Stone has a reputation among journalists as a spokesperson touring on Meta’s behalf (it’s his job to do so, after all), but not as a spokesperson outright lying on behalf of the company.
The Wire reported Monday that Facebook has given the ruling BJP party’s main digital operative an unchecked ability to remove content from the platform. The report, which is based on what it says are internal documents, appears to advance the WSJ’s report on an internal company program called XCheck, in which Facebook shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal application process.
Meta insists that the XCheck program “has nothing to do with the ability to report posts” and has publicly called the documents “fabricated.” Meta Communicator Andy Stone tweeted: “The posts in question appeared for review by automated, non-human systems. And the underlying documentation appears to be fabricated.”
However, a Meta spokesperson on Tuesday called the report “inaccurate,” hours after Meta’s director of policy communications Andy Stone said XCheck’s status “has nothing to do with the ability to report publications”. “The posts in question appeared for review by automated, non-human systems. And the underlying documentation appears to be fabricated,” Stone tweeted.
But the news portal published another report to back up his reporting, including an image of an alleged email Stone sent to internal teams asking how the documents were leaked. The image also suggested that Facebook maintains a watchlist of journalists.
In a later report titled “How the hell did the document get leaked?” – Meta internal email debunks ‘fabricated’ charge against The Wire”, the portal claimed that Stone’s public comments contrast sharply with an internal email he sent to a group of Meta employees, asking “how the hell” it had been the same “leaked” document.
In response to The Wire stories, Meta CISO Rosen said, “I wanted to set the record straight on two stories published this week by The Wire with false claims about Meta’s operations and content moderation processes. These stories are fabrications.”
“The stories are simply incorrect about the cross-checking program, which was created to prevent potential over-enforcement errors. It has nothing to do with the ability to report posts, as alleged in the article,” Rosen said.
“In its October 10 story, The Wire links to a supposed internal report about the incident in question. It appears to be a fabrication. The URL on that “report” is one that’s not in use. The naming convention is one we don’t use. There is no such report,” said the Meta CISO.
Wire lives up to his reports. However, if Meta is proven correct, tricking a trusted media outlet into publishing an explosive story that could have been easily refuted by a large mega-corporation like Meta would damage the credibility of the press in India at a time when the media of the country are increasingly dealing with a series of existential crises. Who would have the least to lose and the most to gain here, especially if the goal was to undermine credibility in the press?
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