Delhi Assembly Panel's "Final" Summons For Facebook To Appear On Wednesday

AAP MLA Raghav Chadha, who heads the committee, said the "frivolous technical grounds" cited by Facebook to excuse itself from the first summons indicated "a pre-mediated attempt to non-cooperation"

Delhi Assembly Panel's 'Final' Summons For Facebook To Appear On Wednesday

Facebook India appeared before a parliamentary panel over hate speech rules (Representational)

New Delhi:

Delhi Assembly's "Peace and Harmony" committee has issued a fresh and "final" summons to Facebook India, to appear before it on Wednesday, over allegations of "deliberate inaction on the part of (the) social media platform to apply hate speech rules".

This comes days after Facebook India executives, including Managing Director Ajit Mohan, snubbed a call to appear (on September 15), citing, in a written response, that they had already appeared before a parliamentary panel on this issue and, therefore, the Delhi Assembly should withdraw its summons.

"Any defiance to the subsequent notice for appearance shall be deemed to be an act of breach of constitutionally-guaranteed privileges of the committee," a statement released Sunday afternoon said.

"The indifference exhibited by the representative of Facebook India is also a contempt to the people of Delhi... was unanimously decided... that in the event of subsequent default, (the) committee shall be constrained to invoke its power to initiate breach of privilege proceedings against Facebook India and thus (invite) penal jurisdiction of the house," the statement added.

AAP MLA Raghav Chadha, who heads the committee, said the "frivolous technical grounds cited by Facebook smacks of (a) pre-mediated attempt to non-cooperation".

The "Peace and Harmony" committee was set up by the Delhi Assembly (where the ruling AAP holds 62 of the 70 seats) after riots in February over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act; over 50 people were killed and hundreds injured in the violence.

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Homes were burnt, vehicles were vandalised and people were killed during the Delhi violence

The decision to summon Facebook India was over complaints of "deliberate and intentional inaction to contain hateful content" in India.

This was after reports by US publications that cited interviews with unnamed insiders to allege that hate speech rules were not applied in the case of inflammatory posts by BJP leaders and right-wing activists.

One report - by the Wall Street Journal - identified Ankhi Das, Facebook India's policy chief, as saying punishing violations by BJP workers "would damage the company's business prospects in the country".

Another, by TIME magazine, referred to a video by BJP leader Kapil Mishra - a video that was among several by BJP leaders played by the Delhi High Court in its hearing on the matter.

In response Facebook has insisted that it applies hate speech rules uniformly and without any consideration to political parties that may be involved.

The social media giant has already met a parliamentary panel - headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor - once this month and is due to appear before that panel again.

The US media reports triggered a political row between the BJP and the Congress, which has written letters to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Amid allegations that it controls social media narratives, the BJP hit back by pointing out the Congress was approached by data firm Cambridge Analytica to "weaponise" data before last year's Lok Sabha elections.