Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) IT cell head Amit Malviya who had said that he will file a case against news and opinion website ‘The Wire’ claiming that the media outlet tried to tarnish his image and reputation, spoke in details on Friday on why he was left with no other option than seeking appropriate legal remedies.
“As mentioned on Thursday, I will lodge an FIR with the concerned police station under sections that deal with forgery, forgery for the purposes of cheating, forgery for the purposes of harming reputation, defamation, cheating and criminal conspiracy among others. Additionally, I will also initiate appropriate civil action for damages against ‘The Wire’ and its associates,” Malviya, also the BJP’s West Bengal co-in-charge, said in a statement.
“On October 6, ‘The Wire’ published a report claiming that Meta (the parent company that owns Facebook and Instagram) had removed an Instagram post within a few minutes of it being uploaded by a private account namely ‘Cringearchivist’. The report claimed that the company regularly colludes with members of the BJP in removing content deemed unfavourable to the party,” he said.
Explaining further, he said: “Subsequently, on October 10, 2022, ‘The Wire’ went on to claim that I was the nodal point, interfacing between the party and Meta, for said censorship activity, having been bestowed certain “XCheck” and other privileges by the company. As per the report this status had bestowed on me the following powers overriding any filters, algorithms, vetting, verification or any other checks and balances within the company including ‘Taking down content which is critical of the BJP and its leadership’ and ‘Post any content on its platform: Instagram without any of its filtration algorithms kicking in’.
“The report went on to cite alleged internal correspondence of Meta to justify its claims, alleging I had used said privileges to take down a total of 705 posts to date,” he said.
Malviya further said on October 11, Meta’s Communication Head, Andy Stone, issued a categorical denial and stated that the documents presented by The Wire in its report were ‘fabricated’, and that the “Xcheck” status had been mischaracterised.
“Once Meta issued this statement, The Wire should have at the very least paused its coverage on this issue and commenced an internal audit. Instead, on the same day, it went on to publish yet another malicious report claiming to have accessed further internal emails of Meta employees, namely those exchanged between Andy Stone and his team, purportedly trying to effect a cover up,” he added.
He said that finally, on October 27, after scathing public scrutiny and the exposure of significant fabrication of dates, times and content in its alleged “proof”, ‘The Wire’ publicly apologised to its readers and have retracted the stories about “XCheck” and Meta.
“However, even while retracting the story, ‘The Wire’ has refrained from apologising to me, despite maligning and tarnishing my reputation and causing serious harm to my professional career. My role requires me to vociferously advocate the BJP’s point of view on national issues, across platforms. This role is based on trust and camaraderie, between me and my interlocutors across platforms and more importantly with the public. However, The Wire’s stories have vitiated the atmosphere and severely dented relationships and trust built over years in order for me to carry out the functions of my responsibility,” he added.
“It is clear that ‘The Wire’ and some unknown persons entered into a criminal conspiracy with intent to malign and tarnish my reputation, deliberately inserted my name into a story, and fabricated evidence to implicate me. This also undermines the democratic and informed choices that the public makes, through a carefully calibrated campaign of disinformation and calumny, and does irreparable harm to the democratic right of dissent,” Malviya’s statement on Friday noted.