Not Virtually, Appear In Person: Parliamentary Panel To Tell Facebook

Shashi Tharoor has said that the Parliament Secretariat can make arrangements for vaccination of the company's officials if required.

The panel on Friday grilled Twitter officials for over 90 minutes (Representational)

New Delhi:

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology, headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, will direct Facebook executives to appear "in person" when it examines the company's policies on upholding citizens' rights and preventing misuse of the social media platform, sources said.

The panel on Friday grilled Twitter officials for over 90 minutes over, among other issues, not fully implementing the new rules for social media intermediaries. It will now also call Google, YouTube, and other big companies for such in-person meetings.  

Facebook representatives were unwilling to appear in person citing the company's anti-Covid policy. However, Mr Tharoor, chairman of the powerful panel, has now insisted on it as parliamentary rules prohibit virtual meetings, sources said.

Mr Tharoor has said the Parliament Secretariat can make arrangements to vaccinate them if required.

The panel, comprising several MPs from the ruling party and the opposition, on Friday asked Twitter to "abide by the laws of India in India".

The panel asked why Facebook had not appointed a full-time Chief Compliance Officer in India as required by the new IT rules.

Sources said Twitter's response to questions asked by the MPs were "vague".  

A Twitter spokesperson said later it was prepared to work with the committee on "safeguarding citizens' rights online in line with our principles of transparency, freedom of expression, and privacy."  

Twitter has been facing the government's ire since last month after it branded BJP leader Sambit Patra's tweet, referring to an alleged Congress "toolkit", as "manipulated media".

The government asked Twitter to remove the label and the Delhi police served notices on it and travelled to Bengaluru to question the microblogging site's India head, Manish Maheshwari.

Earlier this month, the government said Twitter had lost its "legal shield" as an intermediary as it failed to implement the new rules.  

This week, the Uttar Pradesh police served a legal notice on the social media giant in a case related to an assault video in Ghaziabad.