Delhi Police on Saturday registered an FIR against news and opinion website ‘The Wire’ and its senior editors based on a complaint filed by BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya, alleging that the portal “forged documents with a view to malign and tarnish his reputation”.
The complaint has been filed against ‘The Wire’ founder Siddharth Varadarajan, founding editor Sidharth Bhatia, editor M.K. Venu, deputy editor and executive news producer Jahnavi Sen, Foundation for Independent Journalism and other unknown persons for offence punishable under Sections 420, 468, 469, 471, 500 r/w 120B and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
“I am filing the complaint for the offences of cheating, forgery for the purpose of cheating, forgery for the purpose of harming reputation, using forged document or electronic record as genuine, and defamation, among other provisions of IPC (‘The Wire’, Siddharth Varadarajan, Sidharth Bhatia, MK Venu and Jahnavi Sen shall be collectively termed as ‘Accused’),” Malviya stated in his complaint.
He alleged that on October 10, ‘The Wire’ had published a defamatory report titled ‘If BJP’s Amit Malviya Reports Your Post, Instagram Will Take it Down – No Questions Asked’.
“This report was authored by Jahnavi Sen who claimed that BJP’s IT department chief has such power in Meta (the parent company of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram) that if any post on the platform is reported by him, the said post is removed by Meta officials without any questions being asked,” Malviya stated.
“Jahnavi Sen further claimed that even if the publisher of the post appeals to Instagram against the removal, it does not get accepted by the system as the complainant has privileges of being on an alleged XCheck list’ or ‘Cross Check program’,” Malviya added.
“As per the report, persons with ‘XCheck’ privileges are provided with direct authority to take down posts on Meta platforms. Pursuant to the report dated October 10, a series of forged and fabricated documents were being created and published by the accused persons along with other unknown persons in order to defame and cause harm to the reputation of myself and BJP,” he alleged.
Earlier on October 6, ‘The Wire’ had published a report stating that Meta has removed an Instagram post published by the handle ‘@cringearchivist’ within a few minutes of it being published by them on the platform.
The report suggested that the Instagram post pertained to a temple dedicated to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, showing a priest performing ‘aarti’ of his idol.
The report claimed that the said post was removed citing Instagram’s guidelines against nudity/sexual activity and further alleged that Malviya had certain privileges to take down posts from Meta-owned Instagram.
Soon after the report was published, several questions were raised over its authenticity and the credibility of the sources cited by ‘The Wire’.
On October 11, Andy Stone, the Communication Head of Meta, issued a statement that the documents presented by ‘The Wire’ in its report were “fabricated”.
“The posts in question were surfaced for review by automated systems, not humans. And the underlying documentation appears to be fabricated,” Stone had said in a tweet.
Later, ‘The Wire’ also issued an apology stating that it rushed to publish the story it believed was reliable without having the associated technical evidence.