After Twitter, Parliament Panel Summons Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram

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

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After Twitter, Parliament Panel Summons Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram

Facebook officials have been summoned by a parliamentary panel in India. (Representational)


New Delhi: 

After Twitter, representatives of Facebook, its messaging services WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram have been summoned by a parliamentary panel to appear before it early next month and discuss concerns over safeguarding "citizens' rights on social media".

Social media in the world's largest democracy has 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.

In a circular late on Thursday, the parliamentary committee on information technology, chaired by Anurag Thakur, a lawmaker from the BJP, 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 request for comment.

The panel has previously summoned social network Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey to appear on Monday to discuss the same topic.

But the notice has been linked to recent protests against the platform by members of the ruling BJP who accused the company of suppressing right-wing handles and those supporting the party.

"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.

Google launched a programme this week to train journalists in areas such as online verification and fact checking before the polls.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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