The Indian parliamentary committee on information technology has asked representatives from Facebook, the messaging app WhatsApp and the photo sharing app Instagram to appear and answer questions about citizens’ rights on social media platforms, according to a report from CNBC.
Social media in India is a hotly disputed topic in the country, and false political news and tech firms are being heavily scrutinized before an upcoming general election in May, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking for a second term.
The committee said it would listen to the views of the social media outlets on March 6, and didn’t specify whether it wanted Indian representatives or global ones to appear.
Committee Chairperson Anurag Thakur said the subject of the talks would be “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social or online news media platforms.”
The panel summoned Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey on Monday (Feb. 25) to discuss the same thing. Twitter said Global Vice President of Public Policy Colin Crowell will meet with the panel. “These are issues for all internet services globally,” Twitter said on Friday (Feb 22).
Ahead of the election, Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp have redone policies and attempted to increase transparency to help combat misinformation.
Last year, rumors and fake videos spread on WhatsApp, leading to about two dozen lynchings. Although Facebook has since limited the number of times a message can be forwarded, the government doesn’t believe it is enough, and now wants access to the platform’s messages so it can track down responsible parties. Facebook has so far refused the request.
“For six months, we’ve been telling them to bring more accountability to their platform, but what have they done?” asked Gopalakrishnan S., a senior official in the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY), according to Bloomberg. “So pedophiles can go about on WhatsApp fully secure that they won’t get caught. It is absolutely evil.”