Why is Amit Malviya suing 'The Wire'? BJP leader explains in fresh statement

Updated on Oct 28, 2022 06:15 PM IST

Amit Malviya issued a “media read out” explaining why he is filing civil and criminal charges against The Wire. He also said, “I am left with no option other than to seek appropriate legal remedies against 'The Wire' and its management/ reporters."

BJP's IT-cell head Amit Malviya (File)
BJP's IT-cell head Amit Malviya (File)
By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

BJP's IT-cell head Amit Malviya has said he will file criminal and civil proceedings against news website 'The Wire', accusing it of using “forged documents with a view to malign and tarnish” his reputation.

The Wire in a series of news reports, now retracted, had alleged that Meta, the parent company of social media giants - WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram - has accorded special privileges to Malviya that enable him to get posts removed from its platforms. The reports had insinuated that the BJP leader was behind the removal of some posts from Instagram.

On Friday, Malviya issued a “media read out” explaining why he is filing civil and criminal charges against The Wire. He also said, “I am left with no option other than to seek appropriate legal remedies against 'The Wire' and its management/ reporters."

"On October 6, 2022, 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 MP in removing content deemed unfavourable to the party.

"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’ & 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:

• Taking down content which is critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party and its leadership.

• Post any content on its platform: Instagram without any of its filtration algorithms kicking in," he said in the statement," he claimed.

Malviya added: “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. On October II, 2022, Meta's Communication Head, Mr, 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 of 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 coverup.”

Finally, on October 27, 2022, after scathing public scrutiny and the exposure of significant fabrication of dates, times and content in its alleged "pro-of", The Wire, publicly apologised to its readers and retracted the stories about "XCheck" and Meta, the BJP leader alleged, adding, “However, even while retracting the story The Wire 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 MP'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 the years for me to carryout the functions of my responsibility,” he added.

Malviya alleged that said it is clear that The Wire and “some unknown persons” entered into a criminal conspiracy with the intent to malign and tarnish his reputation, deliberately inserted his name into a story, and fabricated evidence to implicate him. “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 alleged.

The Wire in a statement on Thursday evening said journalists rely on sources for stories and do their best to verify 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.

In the fresh statement, The Wire said, "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."

"Whether the person who brought all the material to The Wire deceived us at anyone's else's behest or acted on his own is a matter that will be subjected to judicial process in due course," the portal said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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