Parliamentary panel summons top bosses of Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram on March 6

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New Delhi | Published: February 22, 2019 1:56:06 PM

Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, had visited India in November 2018 and had acknowledged that the issue of misinformation is a big concern. About 20 people lost their lives in lynchings in 2018 over the child-lifting rumours on WhatsApp. Facebook is facing criticism after Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw both Congress and BJP attacking each other last year

Jack dorsey, mark zuckerberg, Instagram head, twitter CEO Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, internet bosses, parliamentary committee, Twitter india, fake news, fake news online Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony: A marathon session with the members of the US Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees which grilled the facebook founder even as he apologised to the general public for “not doing enough” to protect its users’ data in April 2018.

The Indian Parliament has summoned the top bosses of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to appear before its Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on March 6. A member of the committee confirmed the development to Financial Express Online and said that they have been asked to appear before it on March 6.

The summons to the heads of the three social media giants comes days after the panel sent a similar missive to Twitter last week. Declining to see any local representative of the microblogging platform, the panel had asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to either appear before the panel himself or send a senior global representative from its headquarters in San Francisco.

The summons had stirred debate around why Twitter was the only media platform to have been summoned and not others. Putting that to rest, the Parliamentary Standing Committee has now called other social media giants as well for questioning.

The agenda of the meeting, scheduled on March 6, is said to be about knowing the opinions of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram on the securing citizens’ rights on online social news media platforms.

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The panel’s meeting with Twitter on February 11 was postponed for 15 days as the company had sought more time to get its CEO to India, reports said.

With Lok Sabha elections fast approaching, fake news and misleading information racing through various social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp is a big issue for the indian political spectrum as well as the government.

More than 20 people had lost their lives in lynchings last year based on the child-kidnapping rumours spread on WhatsApp. Facebook too is facing backlash after data breach and Cambridge Analytica scandal that saw both Congress and BJP attacking each other. Twitter is already a battleground for political parties with everyone sharing videos, photos and memes on each other gaffes and in some cases, fake news designed to stoke communal fire goes viral as well.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who had visited India in November 2018, had admitted that the issue of misinformation is a big concern. Dorsey addressed the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi on November 12, “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.”

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