Ankhi Das, One of Facebook’s Top Execs in India, Leaves the Company


Facebook public policy director for India and south and central Asia Ankhi Das is leaving the company to go into public service.

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Newley Purnell and Jeff Horwitz of The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Indian politician T. Raja Singh, a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party, was allowed to remain on Facebook’s platform despite violating its hate speech policies and being classified as dangerous due to his off-platform activities.

Purnell and Horwitz were told by current and former Facebook employees that Das opposed applying Facebook’s hate speech rules to Singh and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups, telling staff members doing so would damage Facebook’s business prospects in India, its largest market in terms of users.

Facebook vice president and managing director for India Ajit Mohan refuted the Journal report at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2020 virtual conference last month, saying that no one executive at Facebook India has the power to determine how the social network’s content policies are enforced, Manish Singh of TechCrunch reported.

Mohan said at the event, as reported by Singh, “We believe that it’s important for us to be open and neutral and nonpartisan. We have deep belief and conviction that our enabling role is as a neutral party that allows speech of all kinds, that allows expression of all kinds, including political expression, and a lot of the guidelines that we have developed are to make sure that we really enable our diversity of expression and opinion, so long as we’re able to make sure that the safety and security of people are protected.”

Singh reported Tuesday that people close to Das denied that her departure from Facebook was related to the controversy.

Das had been with Facebook since October 2011, following a seven-year stint as director of public policy for Microsoft India, and she said in a message to colleagues, as reported by Singh, “We were a small, unlisted startup back then, guided only by our mission and purpose to connect people in India. After nine long years, I feel that mission has largely been met.”

Mohan said in a statement, “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 past nine years. She has been a part of my leadership team over the past 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.”

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