Twitter is being summoned to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology to examine ‘how to safeguard citizens rights on social/online news media platforms’ on 11 February. Representatives of MeitY will also attend the meeting. This meeting was called a day after there were protests outside Twitter India’s office accusing the platform of being ‘biased against the right-wing.’
BJP MLA Anurag Thakur, who is also the chairman of the committee, tweeted about the notification yesterday:
The Parliamentary Commitee on Information Technology will examine the issue:
SAFEGUARDING CITIZENS RIGHTS ON SOCIAL/ONLINE NEWS MEDIA PLATFORMS
MEITY & TWITTER will present their views.
You can tweet/email your views:
— Anurag Thakur (@ianuragthakur) February 5, 2019
We have reached out to Twitter for comment, and will update this when we hear from them.
Protests about bias
The protests were held outside Twitter India’s headquarters in Delhi’s Lado Sarai by ‘Youth for Social Media Democracy’. The protesters accused Twitter India of being biased against right-wing users and ideologies on Twitter, adding that Twitter blocked these accounts and impressions, but ignored offensive and abusive content, and threats by left-leaning or Congress parties.
Delhi: Members of ‘Youth for Social Media Democracy’ protest outside the office of Twitter India. Protesters say “Twitter has acquired an anti-right wing attitude. They block our accounts & impressions of the tweets. We won’t tolerate this, they will have to change their policy.” pic.twitter.com/rsgTO99uWx
— ANI (@ANI) February 3, 2019
Previous bias accusation
In November, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s visit to India became controversial after a picture of him holding a poster which said ‘Smash Brahminical Patriarchy’ became viral. Several prominent activists, including TV Mohandas Pai, accused Dorsey of “hate-mongering against Brahmins” and equated the placard to one about “anti-Semitic messages.” “Why is that any different? Inciting hate against any community is wrong,” said Pai.
Dorsey later moved the Rajasthan High Court after an FIR was registered against him for defamation, creating hatred between religions/communities, and insulting religious beliefs. Dorsey’s petition stated that “he has no idea to the connotation of the expression.. and does not subscribe to the view that Brahmins are a patriarchal community,”
Twitter’s head of Trust & Safety Vijaya Gadde eventually apologized for the post, and said that the photo was not reflective of Twitter’s views and that “Twitter strives to be an impartial platform for all.”
Woke up Tuesday morning to see Brahmin names floating around on my TL. If Smashing Brahminical Patriarchy is not an incitement to violence, what is? An influential platform like @twitter must be responsible. @TwitterIndia
— Chitra Subramaniam (@chitraSD) November 20, 2018
The home ministry in November inquired Twitter, with other tech companies Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, about the appointment of India-based grievance redressal officers. This was following a meeting between Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba and Twitter’s Global Head of Legal, Policy, Trust and Safety Vijaya Gadde and its public policy head in India, Mahima Kaul. At the time, Twitter’s statement said:
- The Home ministry said that Twitter had been slow in removing or blocking objectionable content in some cases.
- Compliance for removal of such content had been 60% even when the competent authority issued an order.
- Twitter was also asked to appoint India-based contact persons for redressal of complaints and “improve their system of response” to legal requests by law enforcement agencies.