Controversy over Facebook control: Parliamentary Standing Committee summoned Facebook officials on September 2;

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  • Committee member and MP Nishikant Dubey wrote a letter demanding the removal of Shashi Tharoor as the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on IT Affairs.
  • US newspaper had questioned the fairness of Facebook in India, saying – BJP leaders’ hate speeches were not removed;

Facebook is summoned on September 2nd  by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT Affairs amid the ‘control’ controversy of Facebook and WhatsApp in the country. The parliamentary committee has asked officials of electronics and information technology to be present in the meeting, besides the officers of Facebook.

The meeting will also discuss prevention of misuse of online media platforms and protection of citizens’ rights. The standing committee headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor will hear Facebook’s side in the matter. However, this summons has come amidst a tussle between members of the standing committee. Committee member and BJP MP Nishikant Dubey wrote a letter to Lok Sabha Speaker, Om Birla, on Thursday, accusing Shashi Tharoor of violating parliamentary norms and playing with the dignity of the committee. He demanded that Tharoor be removed from the post of chairman of the committee.

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The BJP MP said that Tharoor has violated the rules of procedure of the Lok Sabha. He told that “I have written another letter to the Speaker of Lok Sabha today, appealing to him that Tharoor may not attend the committee meetings”.

What is the Facebook controversy?

  • Facebook’s fairness was questioned by the US newspaper The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The WSJ claimed in its report that Facebook had deliberately not acted against BJP leaders and some groups to take action against the ‘hate speech’ post. Did not remove them soon enough.
  • This report said that Facebook’s policy director in India, Aankhi Das, opposed the enforcement of Facebook’s hate speech rules against BJP leader T Raja Singh. They feared that this might spoil the company’s relations with the BJP. Facebook may lose business in India. T Raja is a BJP MLA from Telangana. He has been accused of inflammatory statements.
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Congress demands JPC to conduct an inquiry;
Congress has demanded a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) probe into the matter. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said- ‘BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh control Facebook and WhatsApp in India. They spread fake news and hate through them and use them to influence voters. Eventually, the American media came out with the truth about Facebook’.

Many believe that Facebook can and should come and present its case in front of the Indian Parliament just as it did in the US Senate.

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