Indian lawmakers summon Facebook officials over citizens’ rights protection

February 22, 2019

MUMBAI (Reuters) – An Indian parliamentary panel has summoned representatives of Facebook Inc, its messaging services WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram to appear before it early next month and discuss how to safeguard citizens’ rights on social media.

Social media in the world’s largest democracy have become a hotbed for circulation of fake political news and tech firms face intense scrutiny ahead of a general election due before May, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek a second term. [nL3N20G1WM]

In a circular late on Thursday, the parliamentary committee on information technology, chaired by Anurag Thakur, a lawmaker from Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, said it would hear the views of officials from Facebook and its units on March 6.

The subject would be “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social or online news media platforms,” it added.

It was not immediately clear whether the panel had asked Indian or global executives of the three firms to appear.

Facebook declined to comment, while WhatsApp and Instagram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The panel has previously summoned social network Twitter Inc’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey to appear on Monday to discuss the same topic. [nL3N2062MG]

“These are issues for all Internet services globally,” Twitter said on Friday, adding that Colin Crowell, its global vice president of public policy, is to meet the panel on Monday.

Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter have overhauled policies to boost transparency ahead of the general election and rein in misinformation.

Alphabet Inc’s Google this week launched a program to train journalists in areas such as online verification and fact checking before the polls.

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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