Attempt was made to influence Delhi polls, says ex-staffer of FB

by Times of India

NEW DELHI: A former



Sophie Zhang

, has alleged that a “coordinated attempt” was made on the

social media platform

to “influence” the Delhi elections in February this year.

“I worked through sickness to take down a politically-sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors working to influence the election,” she wrote in a 6,600-word internal memo meant for Facebook employees which has been published online.

Facebook never publicly disclosed this “network” or that it had taken it down. It is not mentioned who was running the “network”.

BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya shared excerpts from the memo and wrote that a “network” tried to influence local elections in Delhi. “AAP won,” he tweeted, insinuating that the party was involved in this coordinated campaign to influence elections.

AAP IT chief Ankit Lal countered Malviya’s remark. “It is well known that the platform (Facebook) favours BJP. If by ‘coordinated campaign’ he means that we were organized, then yes we were. You can’t fight BJP by being unorganized. If by ‘coordinated campaign’ Malviya means we were in sync with Facebook, then that’s a lie,” said Lal.

Excerpts from Zhang’s memo were first published by BuzzFeed News, which had obtained the “internal” document meant for Facebook employees. The leak comes at a time when Facebook is facing intense scrutiny over its election integrity efforts and how it moderates content in India.

According to the memo, Zhang had allegedly found evidence of coordinated campaigns to boost or hinder political candidates or outcomes in countries such as India, Ukraine,


, Brazil,


, and Ecuador. She claimed to have turned down $64,000 from the social media giant to avoid signing a non-disparagement agreement.

While elaborating the kind of campaigns she took down, Zhang wrote that she found “multiple blatant attempts by foreign national governments to abuse our platform on vast scales to mislead their own citizenry…”

“I have personally made decisions that affected national presidents without oversight, and taken action to enforce against so many prominent politicians globally that I’ve lost count,” she wrote. Zhang also wrote that she felt having “blood on her hands”.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Zhang worked as a data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team, which oversees bots influencing elections.

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