The website TheWire.in is a digital medium that focuses on, among other societal issues, the perceived and real shortcomings, mistakes and lapses, of the NDA government.
The website that runs on support from reader-donors and interested and neutral donors is seen as a vitriolic critic of Narendra Modi regime.
Its editorial ideology is anti-BJP and pro-woke (forgive me for using the least understood word of this decade)
The Press in India is free. That’s why there are many, many writers- columnists, poets, editors, film-makers, cartoonists, standup artists, street performers, news anchors and Bharat Jodo Yatris- who frequently and freely air their strong opposition to the ruling party at the centre and the ruling parties at various states of India.
It is however one thing to oppose the government and its supporters due to differences in ideology but quite another defame a party and its National Head of IT cell by using forged documents
So, this is what really happened.
The Wire website in a recent article claimed that BJP’s Head of IT cell, Amit Malviya, has special powers bestowed upon him like ‘Xcheck’ and the authority to delete posts of other writers.
The website gave evidence in the form of an exchange of emails that proved that some kind of an unethical or rather a sinister pact existed between #Meta, the company that owns #instagram and #Facebook, and BJP that allowed BJP’s IT cell’s head to take down any comment or post on Insta that was inimical and disrespectful to #BJP
To give a better understanding to my readers, it was like saying that Amit Malviya was the Super Admin of Instagram who could post anything on Meta platforms, without any filtration algorithms coming into play.
This is like assigning superpowers to Amit Malviya.
The Wire story also said that it had concrete evidence in the form of email exchanges, to prove that Amit Malviya was able to take down more than 700 posts on his own or he was able to give a command and obtain almost instant compliance, on Meta platforms.
When this story was published, it was emphatically denied by Meta as well as by Malviya. The Head of Communications of Meta, #andystone, unequivocally said that the email documents were forged.
The Wire didn’t take down the story immediately and persisted with another story on how there were internal email exchanges within Meta to cover up the damming facts that emerged out of the original Wire story!
To cut the long story short, Wire eventually realised that they had published a scoop based upon fabricated documents.
They took down the story and published an apology.
The apology however has been tendered to its readers. No apology is made to Amit Malviya, Meta, BJP- the party that was maligned by the website- and Instagram.
Amit Malviya has now filed criminal and civil cases against the website.
At this stage it is not clear that who forged the email documents? The Print team or their alleged ‘source’?
1- If the freedom of press also means slandering corporate houses and political parties, without reason?
2- If the mainstream media (MSM) now trying to outdo social media (SM) in the game of sensationalisation?
3- Is it so hard to apologise to your political opponents? Are media organisations so big with their superegos that they think that their apology, a sincere apology, will lead to a steep fall from their self imagined high pedestal of virtuosity?
Amit Malviya is BJP’s Head if IT cell. He has in the past been guilty of retweeting tweets that contained unsubstantiated allegations. Just as Amit’s opponents have a right to wage a war against his indiscretions, Amit Malviya has a right to defend his image and integrity.
The Wire needs to make an unreserved apology and hope it closes the chapter.
(Dr Sudhir Bisht (PhD) is a long-time presence in national and international companies in oil retail sector as well as in Telecom infra sector. He has also been an author and a consummate writer in the digital world, including on rediff.com, for over two decades now)