By Newley Purnell 

A Facebook Inc. executive in India who was at the center of a political storm over the company's policy on anti-Muslim hate speech on the platform is leaving the company effective today, the company said Tuesday.

Ankhi Das, the social-media giant's top public-policy executive in its biggest market by users, said in an internal Facebook post that she had decided to step down from Facebook to pursue her interest in public service, according to the post supplied by the company.

The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Ms. Das had opposed applying Facebook's hate-speech rules to a politician from the ruling Hindu nationalist party, along with at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, according to current and former employees.

Following the article's publication, Indian lawmakers questioned Facebook officials, while Facebook's own staff internally pushed for a review of how it handles problematic content.

Facebook later banned a member of the ruling party, T. Raja Singh, who the Journal identified as posting material that violated hate-speech rules. Mr. Singh in Facebook posts and public appearances has said Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot, called Muslims traitors and threatened to raze mosques.

A subsequent Journal article revealed that Ms. Das made internal postings over several years describing her support for the ruling party and criticizing its main rival, behavior some staff saw as conflicting with the company's pledge to remain neutral in elections around the world.

"Ankhi has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service," Facebook's managing director for India, Ajit Mohan, said in a statement. Ms. Das 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 9 years," he said.

In her post, Ms. Das said she had "decided to step down from Facebook after long service to its mission of connecting people and building communities."

"Thank you, Mark for creating something beautiful for the world," she wrote, referring to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg.

India is a key market for Facebook, which isn't allowed to operate in China, the only other nation with more than one billion people. Facebook said in April it would spend $5.7 billion on a new partnership with an Indian telecom operator to expand operations in the country -- its biggest foreign investment.

Write to Newley Purnell at newley.purnell@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 27, 2020 10:25 ET (14:25 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)
Historical Stock Chart
From Oct 2020 to Nov 2020 Click Here for more Facebook Charts.
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB)
Historical Stock Chart
From Nov 2019 to Nov 2020 Click Here for more Facebook Charts.