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Last Updated : Feb 22, 2019 04:45 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Parliamentary panel summons chiefs of Facebook, Instagram over citizens' rights protection

The subject of the discussion would be "safeguarding citizens' rights on social or online news media platforms"

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An Indian parliamentary panel has summoned representatives of Facebook Inc, its messaging services WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram to appear before it early next month and discuss how to safeguard citizens' rights on social media.

Twitter replied to the summons, informing the government that CEO Jack Dorsey will be unable to come to India but the meeting will be attended by Colin Crowell, head of public policy for the site.

The microblogging website's chief was asked to appear in front of the committee on February 11, but he refused and asked Indian representatives of Twitter to attend the meeting. However, the government refused the presence of anyone but the top boss.

In a circular late on Thursday, the parliamentary committee on information technology, chaired by Anurag Thakur, a lawmaker from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said it would hear the views of officials from Facebook and its units on March 6.

The subject would be "safeguarding citizens' rights on social or online news media platforms," it added.

It was not immediately clear whether the panel had asked Indian or global executives of the three firms to appear.

Social media in the world's largest democracy has become a hotbed for circulation of fake political news and tech firms face intense scrutiny ahead of a general election due before May, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term.

Facebook declined to comment, while WhatsApp and Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have overhauled policies to boost transparency ahead of the general election and rein in misinformation.

During his visit to India, Dorsey had said, "We have to make sure that we are scoping this problem as tightly as possible...Our job is to make sure we are identifying misinformation, it's the context of the information, the intent behind the information. If it is intending to mislead, we need to understand and pick out the misinformation and our job is to ensure it doesn't spread," he had said.

Alphabet Inc's Google this week launched a programme to train journalists in areas such as online verification and fact checking before the polls.

(With inputs from Reuters)
First Published on Feb 22, 2019 04:40 pm
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