The organization expressed regret to its readers and stated the publications that claimed a BJP leader had access to edit posts on Instagram did not adhere to its guidelines.
The news website The Wire apologized for its now-retracted pieces about the social media business Meta on Thursday and said one of its investigators had misled it.
The Wire had alleged in the articles that Amit Malviya, the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s information technology division, possessed unique rights that allowed him to get posts taken down from the social media platform Instagram. Instagram and Facebook’s parent corporation is called Meta.
The Wire stated that it was currently reviewing the internal procedures that resulted in the articles’ publishing. However, it claimed that the organization had “clearly editorially learned” that all verification procedures requiring technical expertise must be double-checked by reputable, impartial experts.
It added that if it had been done beforehand rather than after publication, “this would have assured that the deception to which we were subjected by a member of our Meta investigative team was identified in time.”
The internal editing checks made before the pieces were published, according to The Wire, did not adhere to the criteria the organization had set for itself.
“We cannot permit a repetition of this blunder,” the statement read. “We rushed to publish a report we believed was reliable without having the associated technical evidence independently reviewed.”
The news website stated that it was putting protocols in place for this and noted that another lesson it had learned was that there should be several levels of editors involved in the editing process for investigative reporting.
The Wire acknowledges that the internal editorial processes which preceded publication of its Meta stories did not meet the standards that we set for ourselves and our readers expect from us. https://t.co/A112BYZlhI
— The Wire (@thewire_in) October 26, 2022
“This combination of not completely understanding the complexity of technology and a lapse in editorial judgment of tech-related issues resulted in the publication of stories which did not ultimately hold up,” the statement read. “We owe our readers an apology for this,”
The Wire removed the pieces regarding Meta on October 23 and announced that it would reevaluate its coverage of the subject.
The news website added that “the technical team involved in our Meta coverage” will conduct a thorough examination of its prior reporting and that the stories would be hidden from the public until the process was finished.
It then took down three reports that had been made public in January and claimed that there was a program called Tek Fog that was allegedly used to automate the retweeting of tweets on Twitter, keep a database of private individuals for targeted harassment, and takeover inactive WhatsApp accounts. The BJP is said to have used the app.
The “The Wire” versus “Meta” Controversy
The row began after The Wire reported on October 6 that Instagram had removed a parody post that showed a man bowing down to a statue of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath for breaking the platform’s “nudity and sexual content” guidelines, despite the fact that the image did not show any nudity.
The website then reported on October 10 that the post had been removed as a result of Malviya, the head of the BJP’s social media unit, filing a complaint.
According to a story by The Wire, Malviya enjoys special rights under an Instagram tool called X-Check that guarantees that any posts he reports are deleted from the site right away, “no questions asked,” even if they do not contravene Meta’s guidelines.
The report by The Wire was based on inaccurate information, according to Meta’s director of communications Andy Stone, who stated this on October 11. The option to report posts had “nothing to do,” he claimed, with the X-Check system.
In addition, he said that “posts in question were raised for review by automated systems, not humans” and that “appears to be faked” an internal Instagram report referenced by The Wire’s source.
In support of its report, The Wire released another item on October 11 that included an image of an email that Stone is said to have sent on that day in which he reprimands some of his colleagues, inquires about how the internal Instagram report “was leaked,” and requests more details.
According to the allegation, Stone also requested that The Wire reporter Jahnavi Sen and Varadarajan be added to a “watchlist” by his coworkers. Guy Rosen, the chief information security officer of Meta, asserted that the email was also fraudulent.
Following this, The Wire claimed on October 15 that it had confirmed Stone’s email and provided additional technological proof to back up its assertions. But technical experts reacted to this with skepticism.
The news site had also made available a technical breakdown of the procedures it had used to write the pieces, which included redacted emails from two cybersecurity specialists. But both specialists then denied taking part in the procedure.