Soon after Facebook India's top public policy official Ankhi Das resigned from her post in Facebook on October 27, the social media giant has chosen WhatsApp's public policy director Shivnath Thukral to take over Das's position.
Das' resignation came weeks after the company came under the scanner both internally from employees and the government over how political content is regulated on Facebook in India.
Who Is Shivnath Thukral?
Shivnath Thukral has previously served as Facebook's public policy director for India and South Asia for two years until March 2020 and reported directly to Ankhi Das, the public policy head for India, South & Central Asia. He was also named by the TIME magazine as one of Ankhi Das's "top lieutenants".
A former journalist, Thukral's primary job was to act as a lobbyist under Das and ensure the company's dealings with the government.
He has also held the position of Managing Director at foreign policy think tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in India. Thukral has also served in a leadership position with Essar Group in the past.
He joined Facebook in July 2017 and was appointed the Public Policy Director for Facebook-owned Whatsapp in 2020. According to the Time magazine report, Thukral has worked for the BJP's digital campaigning in the 2014 elections.
Why Did Ankhi Das Quit?
Ankhi Das's resignation came after The Wall Street Journal published a report in August 2020 on the alleged misuse of power by Facebook's India team which allegedly favoured leaders from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
As per the report, BJP's Telangana MP T Raja Singh had issued inflammatory posts on Facebook in which he called Muslim traitors and threatened to destroy mosques. Assam lawmaker's anti-Mulsim post was also cited.
Even though the posts violated Facebook's guidelines, the report stated that certain employees at Facebook refused to take down the posts in order to protect their relationship with the ruling party.
The allegations were followed by a political storm and attacks and interrogation from politicians, forcing Das to step down from her post.