Ahead of House panel hearing, Twitter says fighting political bias in India


New Delhi,
Feb 8. Set to face a 31-member parliamentary panel hearing on February 11,
Twitter on Friday said it is proactively working with political parties to
verify candidates, elected officials and relevant party officials whose
accounts will be active in public conversation.

The allegation is that Twitter has a bias against “rightwing” accounts as general elections loom.

According to
Colin Crowell, Global Vice President, Public Policy at Twitter, India is
one of its fastest-growing audience markets globally.

“We are
committed to surfacing all sides of the conversation as we enter the election
season in this extraordinarily diverse cultural, political and social climate,”
Crowell said in a statement.

have never been more passionate about our mission to serve our Indian customers
and to protect and enhance the national conversation,” he added.

According to
him, Twitter does not review, prioritise or enforce its policies on the basis
of political ideology.

Tweet and every account is treated impartially. We apply our policies fairly
and judiciously for all,” said Crowell.

The House panel has summoned Twitter India along with representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) for the meeting on February 11 at 3 p.m. in the Parliament complex to examine the issue of “safeguarding citizens’ rights on social media/online news platforms”.

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by Bharatiya
Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur, is tasked with examining several aspects
related to data security and privacy.

According to
the company, political parties themselves select the accounts for verification
and then Twitter reviews these accounts to ensure they meet the company’s
verification standards.

Twitter verifies these accounts to empower healthy election conversations and to provide confidence that these public figures are whom they claim to be,” the company added.

Twitter has made more than 70 product, policy and operational changes since the
beginning of 2018, with the aim of making people feel safe expressing
themselves on the service.

Crowell said
that Twitter will endeavour to be even more transparent in how it develops and
enforces its policies to “dispel conspiracy theories and mistrust”.

The Twitter hearing comes at a time when the Indian government has also formulated new IT guidelines where social media platforms have to remove within 24 hours any unlawful content that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

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