A founding editor of news website The Wire, Siddharth Varadarajan, claimed on Sunday that an email address that the organisation uses has been hacked. He also said that a researcher with the organisation, Devesh Kumar, lost access to his Gmail and Twitter accounts.
He made the statements amid a dispute between the website and social media company Meta about a series of reports that The Wire published starting on October 6. The reports pertain to alleged special privileges given to Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Malviya on Instagram, which is owned by Meta.
“A protonmail address The Wire uses has been hacked via the hacking of a MacBook,” Varadarajan said, urging Internet users not to respond to any email from email@example.com.
The Wire’s founding editor said that Kumar, among the authors of the reports on Meta, lost access to several of his email and social media accounts at noon on Sunday. “Whoever hacked him is sending suspicious phishing-type messages…,” he added.
The Wire had reported that Instagram took down a post by a user @cringearchtivist claiming it violated the social media site’s content guidelines on sexual activity and nudity. The post featured a video of a man worshipping an idol of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath.
On October 10, the website published another report claiming that Meta took down this post at the direction of Malviya.
The Wire claimed that Malviya, who is the head of the BJP’s social media cell, has special privileges through an Instagram programme called X-Check that ensures that any posts that he reports are removed from the platform immediately, with “no questions asked”.
Meta, however, said that users with X-Check or “Cross Check” privileges cannot have content removed from the platform with no questions asked, as the news website claimed. It also alleged that The Wire’s articles were based on fabricated documents and screenshots.