Facebook ‘bias’ row: cross-panel investigation of firm’s India head; Approximately 90 questions answered in writing

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New Delhi: Amid a furious rage against Facebook’s alleged political “bias”, a parliamentary panel on Wednesday questioned India’s head of the company Ajit Mohan for two hours, in which panel members of both BJP and Congress socially Accusing media giants of collusion and influence. Rai, an allegation denied by the firm.
While BJP members raised questions about the alleged political connections of Facebook employees, claiming that several of its senior officials had worked with the Congress and its leaders in various capacities, opposition members asked that the content, including hate speech The videos included, were still available online and were not taken by the social media giant.
Sources said that Ajit Mohan was interrogated as well as opposition members of the committee gave oral answers to some questions, while he has been given around 90 questions, on which he has to answer in writing.
According to sources, questions were also asked about Mohan’s association with the Congress Kerala unit during the 2011 assembly elections and the UPA government, to which he replied that he was associated as a professional, not in any political capacity. .
BJP MPs also alleged that those who follow leftist ideology, or have worked with the Congress, are dominating third-party firms that do fact-checking for Facebook and the social media firm’s Cites several names of top management and its fact-checking partners.
According to sources, the Facebook executive denied the allegations, stating that the company respects the freedom to speak and has a system where rules are followed and action is taken.

“There were several issues related to Facebook which were discussed and Congress raised the issue of the article and alleged collusion between BJP and Facebook. However, the Facebook representative denied the allegations and said that they followed global standards in reporting posts. ” It also denied that there was any collusion with the BJP, ”a source present at the meeting told on condition of anonymity.
After the hearing, a Facebook company spokesperson said, “We thank the Honorable Parliamentary Committee for their time. We want to be an open and transparent platform and to give voice to people and let them express themselves freely.” Commit to giving permission. ”
Senior Congress leader and panel head Shashi Tharoor tweeted, “In response to the media interest at the meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology … This is all I can say: We met for three and a half hours and unanimously agreed Expressed. ” Later resume the discussion, which also includes representatives from Facebook. ”

Apart from Facebook representatives, a few others also appeared before the panel, with the total proceedings lasting about three and a half hours.
According to sources, since discussions with Facebook representatives could not be concluded, there was an idea to call a meeting again on 10 September, but could not be agreed with some members on the basis that the committee The term of office was coming to an end. September 12 and will be restructured.
Sources said, there was a feeling that some people in the committee want to remove Tharoor as the Speaker and a member also gave a kind ‘farewell speech’ for Tharoor, stating that he was not the head of the parliamentary panel Can live

The panel called on Facebook representatives to voice their views “on the subject of prevention of abuse of citizens’ rights and protection from misuse of social / online news media platforms, including a special emphasis on protecting women in the digital space”.
The panel also called representatives of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on the same issue, while some others, including some digital media activists, were also removed from the panel earlier.
An official said 18 members of the panel, including the chairman, were present.
Meanwhile, after Congress and BJP, Trinamool Congress also wrote to CEO of Facebook Mark zuckerberg Raising the issue of alleged bias of the social media giant towards the BJP, and claiming that there is enough evidence in the public domain to corroborate the allegation.
In his letter, party MP Derek O’Brien also refers to an earlier meeting with Zuckerberg where some of these concerns were raised.
In a related development, CPI (M) MP PR Natarajan has written to Tharoor, demanding a criminal probe into Facebook’s alleged links with the BJP.
The political corridor was triggered by Tharoor’s announcement that the panel would like to hear from Facebook about a recent report published in the Wall Street Journal, which claimed that the social media platform allowed some BJP politicians to implement their hate speeches Is ignored by. In the member panel of the ruling party.
BJP MP Nishikant Dubey had alleged that Congress leaders are using the platform of the panel to further their own and their party’s political agenda and even demanding his removal from the post of president.
A new round of political deadlock over the issue began on Monday with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi claiming that the international media had “unleashed” Facebook and WhatsApp’s “shameless attack” on India’s democracy and social harmony.
Gandhi tweeted, “No one, a foreign company, can be allowed to go alone. We should be allowed to interfere in the affairs of our country. They should be investigated immediately and punished if found guilty. should go.”

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also wrote to Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, accusing employees of the social media platform of supporting people in political elections, who consistently lost elections, and “abusing” the Prime Minister and senior cabinet ministers. .

In a three-page letter to Facebook CEO Zuckerberg, Prasad alleged “bias and inaction” by individuals Facebook india On the complaints of the people, the team supported the ideology of the center.

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