An Indian Parliamentary committee had summoned Twitter‘s chief executive to appear before it later this month after the Twitter official denied to attend a hearing on Monday to discuss citizens’ rights on social media. The panel had refused to meet “junior officials” of the microblogging site during its meeting on February 11.
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.
“We thank the Parliamentary Committee for its invitation to hear Twitter’s views on ‘Safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms’. These are issues for all Internet services globally. Colin Crowell, Global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter, will meet with the Committee on Monday,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
As the Lok Sabha elections inches closer, social media companies are under immense pressure for their platforms being used to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means. The government has asked the companies to take strong actions against any such attempts that might hamper the election results.
According to the sources, the committee had refused to meet junior officials from Twiter who were present at the meeting venue.
The panel demanded Twitter’s CEO present himself before them in order to show the company’s seriousness in safeguarding rights of Indian citizens online, they added.
As per the resolution, the panel would hear only the CEO or senior member of its global team “who has decision-making authority regarding Twitter’s operations in India,” one of the sources had said.
Twitter has been facing criticism for its alleged political bias in the country and has been maintaining that it is committed to remaining unbiased and it “does not review, prioritize, or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology.”
The government has been taking strong steps to curb fake news that gets circulated on social media platforms and is also proposing IT amendments to hold the platforms accountable for spreading misinformation.
Facebook has also taken various steps, including adding more partners, in order to strengthen the fact-checking programme to ensure that fake news are not circulated on the platform. facebook-owned WhatsApp messenger has also conducted road shows and media campaigns to control fake news. The app has also tweaked its features, including limiting the number of forwards to five chats only, in order to prevent the spread of misinformation on the platform.
Twitter said on Thursday that it has formed an internal, cross-functional group ensure “electoral integrity work” that will support partner escalation and identify potential threats from malicious actors.
The company has also stated that its teams are working closely with political parties to train them on using Twitter to best engage with their constituents.