Facebook executive Ankhi Das, whose name emerged in a recent controversy over alleged bias by the social networking giant in tackling hate speeches, has stepped down from her post in the company. Her resignation comes four days after Das had appeared before Parliament's Joint Committee on the Personal Data Protection Bill which had asked her about Facebook's advertisement model, it's targeting of audiences, earnings and taxes and its models for data storage and transfer.
"Ankhi has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service. Ankhi was one of our earliest employees in India and played an instrumental role in the growth of the company and its services over the last nine years. She has been a part of my leadership team over the last two years, a role in which she has made enormous contributions. We are grateful for her service and wish her the very best for the future," a statement by Ajit Mohan, Facebook India's Managing Director, said.
Das' resignation comes weeks after the company came under the scanner both internally from employees and the government over how political content is regulated on Facebook.
In August, articles by The Wall Street Journal and TIME magazine alleged Facebook did not apply hate speech rules uniformly, citing speeches by BJP leaders ahead of the north-east Delhi riots.
The Journal also said that an executive who was later identified as Ankhi Das suggested to the company that punishing such violations by BJP workers "would damage (its) business prospects".
According to a second report by the Journal Ms Das also "made internal postings over several years" detailing her support for the ruling BJP and disparaging its main rival - behaviour some staff saw as conflicting with the company's pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world.
Facebook, however, has maintained that it applies hate speech rules uniformly and without any consideration to political parties. The company also said that the posts by Das do not show inappropriate bias.
"These posts are taken out of context and don't represent the full scope of Facebook's efforts to support the use of our platform by parties across the political spectrum," a spokesperson said.
Facebook was summoned before a parliamentary panel chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. The company was also summoned by the Peace and Harmony committee of the Delhi Assembly but did not appear.
Last week Das appeared before a parliamentary panel over concerns related to data privacy and was grilled for nearly two hours. Facebook was told that it cannot use the personal data of citizens for "inferential" purposes in advertising or business or elections.
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