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Is the Government Right in Summoning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey?

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The Quint
11th February, 2019 22:47 IST

“No one but the top boss will do.” That’s the message coming in from the Parliamentary Committee of Information and Technology, headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur that has given Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a deadline to appear before it by 25 February.

A team of Twitter officials that appeared before the committee on Monday, 11 February were not entertained. The panel wants to meet Twitter officials to “safeguard citizens’ rights on social media platforms.”

But the summons have reportedly come after claims that the microblogging site has a right-wing bias and has been shutting down accounts in favour of the current government that is led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) citing ideological reasons. Is the panel justified in demanding the Twitter CEO’s presence?

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Committee members on Monday took a serious note about Dorsey not appearing before it. While representatives from Twitter's India office reached the meeting venue in Delhi, they were not called in for deliberations by the panel, according to PTI.

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the government has been warning social media platforms of strong action if any attempt is made to influence the country's electoral process through undesirable means.

On Saturday, Twitter in a statement had cited "short notice of the hearing" for its CEO Dorsey not being able to attend the Monday meeting.

The panel was scheduled to hear the views of the representatives of Ministry of Electronics and IT, and Twitter on 'Safeguarding citizens rights on social/online news media platforms'.

Senior officials from the IT ministry were present at the meeting on Monday.

Facing heat over allegations of political bias in the country, Twitter last week said it was committed to remain unbiased and that its product as well as policies are never based on political ideology.

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 apps.

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

(With inputs from PTI)

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