Indian news outlet Wire suspends reporting on Meta amid backlash • TechCrunch Leave a comment

Indian news outlet The Wire said on Tuesday it is setting up an internal review to assess the documents, information, source material and people it relied on for critical stories on Meta that claimed the social juggernaut gave governing party BJP’s top digital operative an unchecked ability to remove content from Instagram and a series of follow-up pieces in which it said Meta executives were misleading people.

The statement on Tuesday follows the security researchers that the Wire portended to rely on — and supposedly cited emails by them to confirm the authenticity of a Meta executive’s email — saying fake emails were used to suggest they participated. The Wire says it is suspending stories on the American giant until it has concluded the review.

The Wire, a nonprofit news organization, reported earlier this month that Facebook had given governing party BJP’s top digital operative an unchecked ability to remove content from the platform. The report, which relies on what it claims are internal documents, appeared to advance WSJ’s reporting of an internal company program called XCheck, where Facebook shields millions of VIP users from the company’s normal enforcement process.

Meta’s comms Andy Stone, in response, insisted that the XCheck program “has nothing to do with the ability to report posts” and publicly called the documents “fabricated.” The Wire then published what it claimed was an email Stone wrote to his colleagues, questioning how the documents that the Wire cited in its story leaked. Facebook doubled down on its rebuttal, saying the purported email from Stone was also fabricated.

The Wire last week then moved to verify the authenticity of the email with the help of independent security researchers but its conclusion was met with wide skepticism from security researchers. Today, both the security researchers cited by Wire said they did not participate in the verification.

Wire, whose reporting appears to be riddled with several more lapses, said it is also “exploring the option of sharing original files with trusted and reputed domain experts” as part of the review.

India is Meta’s largest market by users.

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