Parliamentary panel to discuss Facebook issue today


Facebook Logo, File Photo

Facebook Logo, File Photo

Amid a political slugfest over the Facebook issue, a parliamentary panel will meet on Wednesday to discuss alleged misuse of the social media platform.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, has summoned representatives of Facebook and will hear their views “on the subject of safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms including special emphasis on women security in the digital space,” according to the agenda of the meeting.

It has also called representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the same issue.

The meeting of the panel was adjourned on Tuesday in view of the national mourning due to the demise of former President Pranab Mukherjee. Its agenda for the day was suspension of internet services in several parts of the country.

However, panel members were intended to discuss the suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, a source said.

Shashi Tharoor’s announcement that the panel would like to hear from Facebook about the report published in the Wall Street Journal claiming that the social media platform ignored applying its hate-speech rules to politicians of the BJP in India, evoked strong reaction from BJP members of the panel.

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey alleged that the Congress leader has been using the platform to further his and his party’s political agenda and even demanded his removal as chairman of the panel.

A fresh political slugfest has started on the matter with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday claiming that international media has “exposed” Facebook and WhatsApp’s “brazen assault” on India’s democracy and social harmony.

“No one, let alone a foreign company, can be allowed to interfere in our nation’s affairs. They must be investigated immediately and when found guilty, punished, “Rahul Gandhi tweeted.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday wrote to Mark Zuckerberg accusing the social media platform’s employees of supporting people from a political predisposition that lost successive elections, and “abusing” Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers.

In a three-page letter to Facebook Chief Executive Zuckerberg, Prasad alleged “bias and inaction” by individuals in Facebook India team on complaints by people supportive of right-of-centre ideology.