Thursday, October 21, 2021

Facebook India division without a director after executive’s resignation

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Image copyright Reuters Image caption The CEO of Facebook’s India division did not disclose his reason for leaving the social network

The Indian division of Facebook is without a director after one of its executives quit the company.

The man’s resignation follows weeks of controversy in the country, where a popular app linked to misinformation and impersonation has allegedly gone unchecked.

Chennai-based local Samwel Chopra was the company’s top employee for just over a year.

His abrupt departure comes in the wake of complaints by citizens in Chennai about stories spreading from local chat apps.

“A time for finding my personal ‘place’ has come, and it has also come in a strategic time for me,” he wrote in a statement to the AFP news agency.

“I am excited about what the future holds, and I wish my last few months at Facebook to achieve my end, with your continued support and the people who are part of Facebook India.”

He did not specify the reason for his departure, but wrote that he would continue to work with the company’s investors to ensure its Indian market continues to grow.

Over the weekend, the social network suspended 55 applications linked to Russian election interference, including a city-based communication app called News Republic, and had promised to step up its efforts against content that “endangers” users or meddles in elections.

His resignation was not described as a surprise; Mr Chopra worked with Facebook in the US before being appointed to his position, and a LinkedIn account recently revealed that he had been looking for other positions.

But the appointment of a very public figure in such a senior role was a recognition of how Indian young people are starting to show more interest in the role of social media, particularly in politics.

And it comes at a critical time in the country’s political history.

T-Mobile — an app allowing users to connect with local people and groups for conversations — recently published a report detailing abuse of its app. It said it flagged around 2,000 abusive posts to the police last year, but was denied access to some.

Many of those posts concerned the Indian Premier League (IPL), a long-running cricket tournament. IPL has been hugely popular among the country’s middle classes, and the country’s politicians have often battled to win fans during the tournament.

In March last year, a Q&A session organised by the district office in Bengaluru for a political candidate did not go smoothly. In video footage of the encounter, activist and top lawyer Ram Manohar Lohia is shown getting tackled by the candidate after shouting out questions.

“It’s a friendly thing and she didn’t expect it, but I didn’t think it was a friendly thing because of her aggressive attitude,” Mr Lohia told the AFP news agency.

“I expected her to listen to me and respect me.”

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