The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology has asked the top bosses at Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to appear before it on March 6. Last week, the same panel had kicked up a storm after it sent out a similar summons to microblogging platform Twitter.
Refusing to meet any local representative, the panel asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to show up or send a senior global executive from the San Francisco-based social networking firm.
While questions were being raised over why Twitter was being singled out, the committee had recently said that it would call the other social media companies too for questioning.
In a notification, the Committee has said the agenda of the March 6 meeting will be “to hear the views of the representatives of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram on the subject of ‘’safeguarding citizens’ rights on social/online news media platforms”.
According to a person familiar with the matter, the companies have been asked to be represented by “the CEO or a member of the global team”.
Emails sent to Facebook, which owns WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram, were not immediately answered. The panel’s head, Anurag Thakur, confirmed the development. Twitter said last week it wasn’t given enough time to get the CEO to India, and the meeting was deferred by 15 days on February 11.
Misinformation and fake news spreading through social media and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp are a big concern for the government and political parties as India heads towards general elections in a couple of months.
On his maiden visit to India, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had earlier acknowledged the problem. “We have to make sure that we are scoping this problem as tightly as possible...Our job is to make sure we are identifying misinformation, it's the context of the information, the intent behind the information.
If it is intending to mislead, we need to understand and pick out the misinformation and our job is to ensure it doesn't spread,” he had said. While Dorsey may consider making a second visit to India for a meeting with the Standing Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg may also plan a similar outing.