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The Wire ombudsperson Pamela Philipose says the portal took serious missteps in handling the fake Meta story, accuses Meta of tarnishing Wire’s image

The ombudsperson, who is supposed to be an independent authority in The Wire, called OpIndia “an unabashedly right-wing, anti-Muslim, Hindutva-driven organ”, because OpIndia covered the issue extensively

Days after the ultra-leftist news portal The Wire withdrew its series of reports claiming that BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya had some superpowers to remove posts from Meta-owned Instagram after the reports were found to be fake based on fabricated evidence, the portal’s ‘ombudsperson’ Pamela Philipose has finally commented on the issue.

The ombudsperson, also known as public editor or reader’s editor, is supposed to work with The Wire‘s editorial structure, and the portal had said that the position was created to add a new layer of transparency and accountability to their editorial functioning. After remaining silent on the controversy for days, Pamela Philipose finally opened up on the issue after several netizens questioned her stand on the matter.

She specifically mentioned BuzzFeed reporter Pranav Dixit, who has posted several tweets questioning her role as ombudsperson if she has nothing to comment on serious allegations of fraud against The Wire.

While Pamela Philipose refrained from taking a clear stand, she admitted that The Wire committed some mistakes. But she did not directly admit that The Wire or its sources fabricated evidence, and instead claimed that the investigation conducted by The Wire is prima facie a significant one. She also made several allegations against Meta.

The Wire Ombudsperson said that three kinds of people were demanding a response from her in the issue, the supporters of Wire who believed the story, the opponents who ‘exhibited uninhibited glee at the supposed implosion of The Wire’s reputation’, and serious media watchers and domain experts in the matter. Interestingly, the journalist who is supposed to be an independent authority in The Wire, named OpIndia in the second group, called the portal “an unabashedly right-wing, anti-Muslim, Hindutva-driven organ”, noting that OpIndia has extensively covered the issue.

Despite overwhelming evidence that the entire story by Wire against BJP and Meta was fake, Pamela Philipose claims the ‘investigation’ done by Meta is significant, and “offers potentially important insights into the workings of social media behemoths”. It must be noted that The Wire had claimed that BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya had been given superpowers by Meta to moderate content on Instagram.

Based on the fact that an image posted on Instagram was deleted by an automated algorithm mistaking it for displaying nudity, Meta had made this claim, saying the post was removed on the instructions of Malviya. They had ignored the fact that the account that had posted the image had blamed the Instagram AI algorithm for the deletion, the account was private, and Malviya didn’t follow the account. There was absolutely no proof of Malviya having special access to Instagram, Wire completely made it up, but the ombudsperson thinks it was a significant investigation.

Pamela Philipose does not think that the evidence provided by The Wire to prove its story was fake, but instead tries to blame the sources named in the story for distancing themselves from the story and confirming that the entire story was fake. She says, “many of these sources either did not stand by what The Wire put out, or were misunderstood, or were wrongly quoted, or possibly had second thoughts,” but does not mention that the sources named in the reports have clearly said that The Wire produced fake emails to claim that they had supported the portal’s story.

Talking about how fast netizens were exposing the lies in the reports, she said The Wire could not match the speed in rebutting them with conviction. But she says that these exposures with in-depth analysis by independent experts were mere ‘public perception’, and that Wire was unable to correct that perception. She also fails to mention that many of the experts who exposed the Wire’s lies actually belong to the leftist ideology, and they hate BJP and PM Modi as much as The Wire does.

In the conclusion, Pamela Philipose admitted that The Wire committed serious mis-steps in the firefighting when contrary evidence piled up. She said that The Wire’s actions did more harm to its credibility instead of restoring it. She further said that Wire waited too long to withdraw the stories, saying they finally did the right thing to decide to review its reporting.

However, she does not mention what those ‘mis-steps’ were, which hides the seriousness of the crime committed by The Wire. By now it has been proved that The Wire not only created a fake email attributed to Meta official Andy Stone, but they also created fabricated emails to claim that two independent experts had certified the Andy Stone email to be true.

She also does not mention that Wire had created a fake Workplace account, two days after its initial story, to support its Amit Malviya-Instagram claim. And as Meta informed that it was a spoof account created on a trial account, Pamela Philipose attacked Meta instead, for not revealing the person who created the spoof account.

She forgot that the account was exclusively shared by The Wire as evidence of its claims, therefore, it must be created by someone from The Wire or its sources. Unlike social media accounts, accounts on collaboration tools like Workplace, Slack etc are not visible to the public or even to users of different groups. Therefore, the person who produced the video of the software knows who created it, and being the ombudsperson of Wire, she can just ask editor Siddharth Varadarajan to know who created it. It is notable here that Varadarajan has said that all the tech side of the story was handled by its ‘tech expert’ Devesh Kumar, who had admitted to running as many as 40 servers to manipulate bots and online polls to defeat ‘BJP IT cell’.

Pamela Philipose concluded by saying that “it appears then that Meta knows a lot more than it has let on, even as it tried to muddy the image of The Wire,” a shocking and hilarious claim. It was The Wire which was trying to tarnish the image of Meta by claiming that the social media giant with known and self-admitted pro-left tilt was colluding with BJP to remove posts from private accounts with merely few hundred accounts. The Wire claimed Meta had given unlimited authority to Amit Malviya to delete content from its platforms, and when Meta demolished all those allegations, she is accusing Meta of tarnishing the so-called image of The Wire.

She also believes that in the process, “the reputation of a world renowned social media platform has itself been muddied,” a claim hardly anyone outside The Wire will believe at this juncture. Even if one ignores the evidence produced by Meta, confirmations from experts that Wire fabricated their emails, and other independent experts demolishing the Wire reports point by point with detailed technology analysis shows who has suffered the loss of image.

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Raju Das
Raju Das
Corporate Dropout, Freelance Translator

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