Top Twitter executives seek more time for House meet
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