Facebook, Google and the overhaul of Big Tech’s public policy manual

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In October 2020, when Ankhi Das resigned his post as chief policy officer of Facebook India, it was a watershed moment. Das resigned after a the Wall Street newspaper The investigation accused Facebook of allowing hate speech by politicians of dispensation from power in India, the Bharatiya Janata party, to remain on its platform. This was reportedly done at Das’ request in order to protect the company’s business interests in the country, which happens to be its largest market.

Having served as a political official since 2011, Das was the longest-serving Facebook employee in India. Its release and the scandal associated with it finally exposed the murky world of big tech public policy. There is now a level of accountability that until now has been the exception rather than the norm. The status quo – which often meant walking in moral gray areas, including doing the ruling political party a favor – was suddenly untenable.

Facebook, of course, isn’t the only big tech company whose public policy team has played fast and loose with ethics. Sources said The Ken that at Google, funds allocated to a third-party lobbying firm for advocacy work have been misappropriated. The alleged transgressions occurred in 2018-19, with funds originally intended for advocacy work related to India’s upcoming data protection laws. According to a senior source, the money was used to finance the trip of a public official in Europe, as well as the visit of a Google employee.

Sources said it was in fact a violation of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Details of the case remain unclear. In response to detailed questions from The Ken, said a Google spokesperson: “Technology is an important part of ongoing policy debates, and we appreciate that policymakers and public interest organizations have questions for Google and on the Internet. We work hard, and in accordance with applicable laws and our ethics and compliance policies, to help them understand how our products and services work, including through consultants and organizations.

With India’s growing importance to big tech companies, scandals could hamper their ambitions in the country, which they can hardly afford.

Amazon, for example, has invested over $ 4.5 billion in the Indian market. During the fiscal year ended in March 2020, its turnover increased by 43% to reach

10,847.6 crore rupees


10,847.6 crore rupees

Money control
Amazon India Ecommerce Unit Loss Widens To Rs 5,849.2 Crore In FY20, Revenue Up 43%
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(~ $ 1.4 billion). Facebook India, meanwhile, recently announced that it had crossed

$ 1 billion


$ 1 billion

India time
Facebook’s revenue in India exceeds $ 1 billion
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of revenue for the fiscal year ended March 2021.


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