Top Twit­ter ex­ec­u­tives seek more time for House meet

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - HTPUNJAB - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran and Vidhi Choud­hary let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

NEWDELHI: Ex­ec­u­tives from Twit­ter’s US head­quar­ters will not ap­pear be­fore a par­lia­men­tary panel that has sum­moned them on Mon­day over per­ceived bias to­wards rightwing han­dles on the mi­croblog­ging plat­form al­though a spokesper­son for the firm said in a state­ment that this is only on ac­count of tim­ing and that Twit­ter is “will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in” a hear­ing by the panel.

“... we are will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in such a broad hear­ing process. Given the short notice of the hear­ing, we in­formed the com­mit­tee that it would not be pos­si­ble for se­nior of­fi­cials from Twit­ter to travel from the United States to ap­pear on Mon­day,” the state­ment said. The panel’s sum­mons were is­sued on Fe­bru­ary 5, with a meet­ing with the par­lia­men­tary panel sched­uled for Mon­day, Feb 11. A right-wing group, Youth for So­cial Me­dia Democ­racy, re­cently held protests claim­ing the so­cial me­dia firm sus­pends or shadow-bans ac­counts that ap­pear sym­pa­thetic to the rul­ing BJP and the gov­ern­ment. Anurag Thakur, a BJP MP who heads the par­lia­men­tary panel on in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy, asked IT min­istry of­fi­cials and Twit­ter rep­re­sen­ta­tives to be present at the meet­ing. He said the panel takes a se­ri­ous note of Twit­ter’s re­sponse and would take “ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion on Fe­bru­ary 11.”

Ac­cord­ing to an of­fi­cial aware of the let­ter sent to Twit­ter, the com­pany was told “it may be noted that the Head of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion has to ap­pear be­fore the Com­mit­tee”. Ac­cord­ing to Twit­ter, the orig­i­nal re­quest sent on Fe­bru­ary 1 was for “rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Twit­ter” to at­tend the hear­ings, while a sub­se­quent com­mu­ni­ca­tion Fe­bru­ary 7 asked for “the CEO or at least the next se­nior most func­tionary in the hi­er­ar­chy”.

“Al­though it was not pos­si­ble for Twit­ter’s se­nior lead­er­ship to at­tend due to tim­ing con­straints, at all times dur­ing the process, we of­fered rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Twit­ter In­dia to at­tend the hear­ing. We also sug­gested that we work with the Lok Sabha Sec­re­tar­iat to find mu­tu­ally agree­able dates for this meet­ing so that a se­nior Twit­ter of­fi­cial can at­tend,” the com­pany said.

Twit­ter added in its state­ment that it will work to find a mu­tu­ally agree­able date for a meet­ing. “We await feed­back from the gov­ern­ment,” the state­ment added.

In a pre­vi­ous state­ment, Twit­ter said that its In­dia rep­re­sen­ta­tives do not en­force pol­icy and that this is done “with im­par­tial­ity” by a “spe­cialised global team”.

Thakur’s in­ter­ven­tion wasn’t prompted by protests by Youth for So­cial Me­dia Democ­racy alone. Ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter, the is­sue has been re­peat­edly flagged at meet­ings of the RSS.

Twit­ter de­nied these al­le­ga­tions. In a state­ment is­sued on Fri­day, the com­pany said, “Twit­ter is a global plat­form that serves a global, pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion. El­e­vat­ing de­bate and open dis­course is fun­da­men­tal to the plat­form’s ser­vice,’ it said.

› We are will­ing to par­tic­i­pate in such a broad hear­ing process. Given the short notice of the hear­ing, we in­formed the com­mit­tee that it would not be pos­si­ble for se­nior of­fi­cials from Twit­ter to travel from the United States to ap­pear on Mon­day

A STATE­MENT BY THE MI­CROBLOG­GING SITE

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