The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology has issued summons to officials of Facebook and Twitter for January 21, to question them over misuse of the social media/online news platforms. The schedule of meeting on the Lok Sabha website read: “Evidence of representatives of Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and to hear the views of the representatives of Facebook and Twitter on the subject safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space.”
Former union minister and senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is the chairperson of the panel. The panel was constituted in the month of September last year.
The social media giant Facebook faced flak for showing apparent political bias which surfaced after a Wall Street Journal report which was published in the month of August. The constitution of the new standing committee was aimed at increasing answerability amid growing social media platforms.
Earlier, the committee had summoned Facebook‘s India head Ajit Mohan over the issue of political bias on the social media platform.
The allegations of a Facebook bias towards the BJP were reported in The Wall Street Journal in August 2020 and had claimed that Ankhi Das, the platform’s then India Policy Head had opposed the idea of removing hate posts by BJP leaders, warning that this could hamper their ‘commercial interests’. Das has now quit Facebook.
In the month of December, another WSJ report claimed that the social media employees showed political bias due to concerns of security of its own staff.
In August, both Congress and BJP members of the panel were not satisfied with the oral answers of the officials of Facebook and asked the executives to formulate written response to the questions put up by the panel members.