Facebook senior officials to appear before Parliamentary panel on March 6

New Delhi: Senior officials of Facebook will appear on March 6 before a Parliamentary panel to outline the specific measures undertaken to ensure safety of users on its platform after being summoned by the committee, sources said. The development assumes significance amid concerns being raised over any possible misuse of social media tools to interfere in the upcoming elections.

Sources told PTI that Joel Kaplan (Vice President – Global Public Policy) will represent Facebook as well as its group companies – WhatsApp and Instagram.

Facebook India VP and Managing Director Ajit Mohan and Ankhi Das (Director Public, Policy and Programs India) will represent Facebook India, they said.

Facebook, however, did not comment on who would attend the meeting but said it is “deeply committed to India and to safeguarding our users and their rights on our family of apps”.

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to answer questions from the honourable parliamentary committee and to outline the specific steps we have taken to help ensure the safety of our users,” a Facebook spokesperson told PTI.

The parliamentary panel, which met officials of Twitter on Monday, asked the micro-blogging platform to engage more with the Election Commission of India (ECI) ahead of the general elections.

During the meeting, which lasted for nearly three-and-a-half-hours, Twitter officials were also told that there should not be any “international interference” in the Lok Sabha polls and categorically asked to ensure that the forthcoming elections are not undermined and influenced by foreign entities.

Twitter, which faced allegations of political bias on its platform, was represented by Global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter Colin Crowell and other officials.

Twitter has, in the past, maintained that it is committed to remain unbiased and that its product as well as policies are never based on political ideology.

There have been growing concerns around privacy of citizen’s data and their rights on digital platforms.

Given apprehensions that social media could be misused to interfere in the upcoming elections, the government has been warning these platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means.

The government has been taking a strong view of misuse of social media platforms and is also proposing to amend IT rules to curb fake news and increase accountability of such platform.

Over the last few weeks, Facebook, Twitter and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform, and announced a slew of measures as part of their election integrity efforts.