The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology on Thursday summoned Facebook representatives for a discussion on September 2 about allegations that the social media giant had chosen to ignore hate speech made by Bharatiya Janata Party leaders on its platform, PTI reported. The committee’s chairperson Shashi Tharoor had on August 17 announced that the panel will up take up the findings of a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The meeting has been called to “hear the views of the representatives of Facebook 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”, a notification from the Lok Sabha Secretariat said, according to NDTV.
Besides this, the committee has also asked representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to also attend the meeting.
The notice came after two Bharatiya Janata Party MPs – Rajyavardhan Rathore and Nishikant Dubey – wrote to Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, demanding Tharoor’s resignation as committee chairperson for “violating the procedures of the Lok Sabha”. The legislators, who are members of the standing committee, alleged that the Congress leader had issued summons to Facebook without their consultation and accused him of furthering his party’s political agenda.
A controversy has erupted after the report published by The Wall Street Journal on August 14 alleged that Facebook India’s head of public policy, Ankhi Das, “opposed applying hate-speech rules” to at least four individuals and groups linked with the BJP even though they were “flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence”.
Both, the BJP and Facebook have denied the allegations. Das has filed a complaint with the Delhi Police Cyber Cell unit after she allegedly received threats and offensive messages on social media. The Congress, meanwhile, wrote to Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg asking him to look into the matter.
Parliamentary panel to discuss internet shutdowns
On September 1, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology will take up the issue of internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir. For the meeting, representatives of ministries of communications and home affairs have been called, along with representatives of the government of Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi.
Representatives of Information and Broadcasting Ministry, News Broadcasters Association, Press Council of India and Prasar Bharati have been invited for the discussion on “Ethical Standards in Media Coverage”.