BJP’s IT department head Amit Malviya accused news portal ‘The Wire’ and some unknown persons of entering into a “criminal conspiracy” to tarnish his reputation and said he will approach police for registering an FIR on charges of forgery and cheating, among others.
Malviya spoke to media a day after issuing a statement that he will pursue criminal and civil proceedings against the portal over stories, since retracted, that insinuated the BJP leader enjoyed the privilege on Meta platforms of having any post taken down which he believed was against the BJP’s interests.
Though ‘The Wire’ has apologised to readers and withdrawn the stories as questions, including from experts, mounted over their veracity, the BJP leader noted that it has refrained from apologising to him despite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,” Malviya said.
“Consequently, I am left with no option other than to seek appropriate legal remedies against The Wire and its management/reporters,” he added.
The Wire in a statement on Thursday had said journalists rely on sources for stories and do their best to verify the material they receive.
“Technological evidence is more complicated and the usual due diligence may not always reveal the fraud perpetrated upon a publication. This is what happened to us,” it said.
Malviya said the Wire’s reports alleged that Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) regularly colludes with members of the BJP in removing content deemed unfavourable to the party.
The stories claimed that he was allowed to post any content on 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 said even after Meta issued a categorical denial and said the documents shown by the portal were “fabricated” and that the ‘Xcheck’ status, the privilege reportedly bestowed on him, had been mischaracterised, the Wire instead of pausing its coverage and doing an internal audit went on to publish yet another “malicious” report.
“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,” he said.
Malviya added, “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.”
The news portal had earlier apologised to its readers for slippage in its editorial assessment.
“This combination of not fully grasping the complexities of technology and a slippage in editorial assessment of tech-related matter resulted in the publication of stories which did not eventually hold up. For this we owe an apology to our readers,” it said.
The Wire had added, “In the life of any publication, an occasion may come when it is misinformed. The moral test is whether the publication persists or speaks the truth. We chose the latter when we realised we had been given fraudulent information.” The Editors Guild of India on Friday also criticised the portal’s handling of the stories.
It said it was “disturbed” by the recent turn of events with respect to reports published by news portal ‘The Wire’ on Meta and urged newsrooms to “resist the temptation of moving fast on sensitive stories”.
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