The wire, an independent news outlet based in India, retracted its story accusing Meta of granting special permission to an Indian politician to delete posts on its platforms. In posted an update on sunday, The wire says it decided to withdraw its report after “certain discrepancies” emerged in the evidence it used to support its claims.
“Our investigation, which is ongoing, does not allow us to make a definitive judgment as to the authenticity and bona fide of the sources that a member of our reporting team says they have been in contact with over an extended period of time.” explains the outlet. “We are still assessing the whole matter, including the possibility that it was deliberately sought to misinform or mislead.” The wire.”
so far, The wire says the outside investigators it uses to review its reporting cannot validate the alleged email from Andy Stone, Meta’s policy communications director, who presented it as evidence in its original report. They also failed to verify an email from Ujjwal Kumar, an independent expert named in his story who signed some of the outlet’s investigative work (and who also denied ever sending an email to The wire ).
If you haven’t understood the story thus far, you can read our explanation of the whole ordeal. In short, The wire published a report pointing out that Instagram falsely flagged and deleted a satirical image of an Indian politician earlier this month. It later claimed it had contacted a source at Meta, who said Instagram had removed the post at the request of Amit Malviya, the head of the information technology cell of India’s ruling party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The wire alleged Malviya is part of Facebook’s undeniably genuine XCheck or crosscheck system that allows certain high-profile users to avoid the platform’s typical moderation policies, which is what allowed him to get away with deleting the post. The outlet said it had evidence to prove it, including screenshots and videos of Instagram’s alleged internal system used by employees.
The Wire’s outside investigators are unable to validate Andy Stone’s alleged email that initially presented it as evidence
Meta later said the evidence was fabricated and discovered an account on his Workplace tool that appeared to have been created specifically to The wire‘s claims. At the same time, users on the web pointed to several inconsistencies in the reporting. Despite adamantly pushing back Meta’s disclaimers and user findings over several days, The wire eventually gave up ground when it suspended access to its stories and announced its plans to conduct a review on the “source material and resources” used in the story.
It is still unclear what led The wire this path in the first place, but the outlet doesn’t rule out the possibility that someone tricked them into believing a false story. The wire also deleted an earlier story by Devesh Kumar, one of the co-authors of the original story, who, according to platform gamewas the only person in contact with the alleged source.