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The Wire blames retracted Meta story on ‘deception’ by staff member

The Wire blames retracted Meta story on ‘deception’ by staff member


The Indian news outlet hasn’t admitted which pieces of evidence it got wrong but says a member of its ‘Meta investigation team’ is responsible

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Illustration by Nick Barclay / The Verge

The Wire, the Indian news outlet that published an explosive and now-retracted story on Meta earlier this month, says it was subject to “deception” by one of the members of its “Meta investigation team.” In an update posted on its site today, The Wire apologizes for running the retracted story, which originally accused Meta of granting an Indian politician special privileges on Instagram and Facebook.

This latest admission indicates the outlet’s editorial team was somehow tricked by an employee, calling into question whether the employee (who The Wire does not name) fell victim to some kind of deceit or if it was done intentionally as a way to smear Meta. The Wire says it’s currently reviewing its editorial processes and that doing so beforehand could’ve prevented the major error.

“Had we done this before publication rather than after the fact, this would have ensured that the deception to which we were subjected by a member of our Meta investigation team was spotted in time,” The Wire explains. “The Editorial team takes moral responsibility for the omission and undertakes to ensure that in future all technical evidence will be verified by independent experts before publication.”

The Wire couldn’t verify various key pieces of evidence

You can get the rundown on the full story in this post, but the general gist is that The Wire accused Meta of taking down a controversial post on Instagram on behalf of Amit Malviya, the head of the information technology group at India’s ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It backed up its claims with an alleged screenshot and video showing Instagram’s internal moderation system provided by a supposed “source” at Meta.

According to Platformer, Devesh Kumar, one of the report’s co-authors, was the only person at The Wire who spoke with the source. The Wire has since suspended access to Kumar’s reporting on Tek Fog, an alleged app that the BJP uses to control and spread misinformation on social media platforms. The outlet says Kumar’s Tek Fog reporting is “pending the outcome of an internal review by The Wire, as one of its authors was part of the technical team involved in our now retracted Meta coverage.” Kumar also disabled his Twitter account, and his website is no longer available.

The Wire retracted its story on Sunday, stating its investigation “does not as yet allow us to take a conclusive view about the authenticity and bona fides of the sources with whom a member of our reporting team says he has been in touch over an extended period of time.” At the time, the outlet said it couldn’t verify various key pieces of evidence it used to make its case, including an alleged email from Andy Stone, Meta’s policy communications director, and various back-and-forths between The Wire and independent experts who later came forward to say they never were in contact with the outlet.