India May Mute Twitter for 48 Hours Before Lok Sabha Elections to Ensure “Free and Fair” Polls

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Twitter may be asked to go silent for 48 hours during the Lok Sabha election in India. A parliamentary panel on Monday asked Twitter to ensure that the content on their platform supports “free and fair” Lok Sabha elections. The microblogging website has been facing bias charges against the country’s right-wing ideologists. However, Twitter has refuted these allegations saying it “does not review, prioritize, or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology.”

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology also asked Twitter to talk to Election Commission officials and ensure “real-time compliance” with the guidelines concerning free and fair elections.

A parliamentary panel on Information and Technology had also asked Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, to be present before the panel to attend a hearing on Monday to discuss citizens’ rights on social media. Nevertheless, Instead of Dorsey, global Vice President of Public Policy of Twitter, Colin Crowell presented himself before the Parliamentary Committee headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur. The meeting lasted about three and a half hours during which Crowell answered a few questions and asked for a 10 day grace period to answer some of the other questions.

“The Lok Sabha elections should be free and fair. There should not be the kind of complaints as in the US,” Thakur told reporters later. “There should be real-time compliance,” he added.

The summon comes as the social media company is under scrutiny for alleged bias against accounts on its platform with certain ideologies. Several social media platforms are also overhauling their policies ahead of the upcoming general election in the country.

The Youth for Social Media Democracy (YSMD), which is a group with right-wing leanings, accused Twitter of left-wing bias and protested outside the firm’s office in New Delhi earlier this month.

“No action is being taken against LW (left-wing) accounts who are regularly posting offensive, abusive, violence inciting, threat & death wish tweets even when they are found violating Twitter rules,” the YSMD said in a document it submitted to Thakur’s panel on January 31.

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