October 20, 2022 – Indian news publication The Wire has taken down its series of investigative reports detailing the alleged privileges Facebook’s parent company Meta granted to a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader under its “Cross-Check” or “XCheck” programme.
The reports claimed BJP leader Amit Malviya, who heads the party’s IT cell, was exempt from Meta’s enforcement rules under the XCheck programme and that the Instagram posts he reported were removed without any review. After the reports went viral, Meta’s top executives Andy Stone, the communications director, and Guy Rosen, the security chief, hit back at Wire, terming the organisation’s reporting “a fabrication”.
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After initially defending its investigation, Wire has taken down the reports while it conducts an internal review of the material.
“This [internal assessment] will include a review of all documents, source material and sources used for our stories on Meta,” Wire said. “Based on our sources’ consent, we are also exploring the option of sharing original files with trusted and reputed domain experts as part of this process.”
The review comes in the wake of concerns from a number of tech experts and media executives, who questioned the authenticity of Wire’s evidence, especially the “internal” documents that were published to support the XCheck claims and the screenshot of an email the publication claimed Stone had sent to his team.
“In this period, the reports in question will be withheld from public view. Based on our findings, we will determine a future course of action and inform our readers as well, and promise to act – as always – in their best interests,” the statement added. “We understand that our editorial and technical processes for these articles require scrutiny. Our internal review will also draw upon external expertise.”
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Some experts raised concerns that Wire possibly fell victim to an internal ruse, but others supported its reporting, bringing up Meta’s past content moderation controversies and discriminatory policies. In an October 17 statement, Wire announced it would not publish any further “corroborative evidence” that could expose its sources to Meta.