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Social media majors depose before Parliamentary panel

Representatives of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram deposed before the Parliamentary panel on Wednesday. The meeting assumes significance amid concerns that the social media majors could exercise undue influence over the electoral process.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Anurag Thakur, Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, said the companies have acknowledged that there is a need for corrective measures on a wide range of issues and have expressed their readiness to act.

The companies will also be in touch with the Election Commission, and work on the information provided by the ministries concerned. Thakur had tweeted earlier in the day that Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram will be presenting their position before the standing committee on the issue of safeguarding citizen’s rights on social/online news media platforms.

Representatives from Twitter were not a part of today’s meeting, an official aware of the proceedings told BusinessLine. Facebook was represented by Joel Kaplan, Vice-President, Global Public Policy.

‘No meddling in elections’

Kaplan said in an official statement that the company presented before the panel how it is preparing to handle content before the Indian elections. The company did not elaborate further on the meeting.

Twitter was in the eye of the storm in India, after it was accused of a biased censuring of accounts channelling offensive content. In a series of tweets, users complained that the social media platform has a Left-bias, and tends to take down Right-leaning content. Commenting on the discussions on these issues with Facebook, Thakur said: “We asked them to ensure their platforms aren’t used to create division in society, incite violence, pose threat to India’s security, or let foreign powers meddle in Indian elections.”

Source: The Hindu