Twitter called up by India's parliamentary panel

NEW DELHI • Representatives of Twitter have been summoned to appear before an Indian parliamentary panel following complaints that the social media platform is biased against pro-ruling party and right-wing content.

The announcement was posted on Twitter late on Tuesday by Mr Anurag Thakur, the head of the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology and a member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

BJP spokesman Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, who recently organised a protest in relation to the issue, yesterday accused Twitter of shutting down pro-BJP and right-wing accounts.

Right-wing users have complained that their number of users fluctuates and that they are sometimes unable to track their retweets accurately.

Committee member Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, also from the BJP, told broadcaster NDTV that the move was in response to complaints of a "partisan approach" and "ideological bias" by those managing content on Twitter.

Twitter officials will appear before the panel on Feb 11 to discuss "safeguarding citizens' rights on social/online news media platforms".

A Twitter spokesman said the company had no comment other than to confirm that "discussions with the government are ongoing".

 
 

The parliamentary committee is keen to determine how Twitter India deals with complaints of bias and fake news. It has also sought to learn more about the technological tools being used to detect and filter such content.

Social media is playing an increasing important role in India's elections in recent years, with leaders including Mr Modi commanding huge numbers of followers.

As many as seven million tweets were generated during elections in five Indian states this winter, according to the micro-blogging site.

India is scheduled to hold a general election between April and May.

DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Twitter called up by India's parliamentary panel'. Print Edition | Subscribe