IT Panel to Hear Facebook Execs on Social Media Misuse on 2 Sept

The political slugfest between Congress and BJP over the Facebook controversy after WSJ’s report has intensified.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is slated to meet on Wednesday 2 September.
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Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology is slated to meet on Wednesday, 2 September, reported PTI.

The Lok Sabha secretariat informed on Thursday, 20 August, that the purpose of this meeting is to hear the views of Facebook executives on the prevention of misuse of social media platforms.

BJP MPs ASK SPEAKER TO REMOVE THAROOR AS PANEL CHIEF

As BJP’s Nikshant Dubey called for Congress MP Tharoor’s removal from the position of chief of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, MP Rajyavardhan Rathore wrote to the Speaker against Tharoor’s public remarks on Facebook row.

According to ANI, on Thursday, 20 August, Nikshant Dubey said:

“I’ve written another letter to Lok Sabha Speaker today requesting him to persuade Shashi Tharoor to not take meetings of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology. I’ve also requested that he be removed from Chairman post.”

Dubey also said, “We are not favouring any social media. I had said in the Parliament that social media platforms be regulated just like print and electronic media, as it propagates a lot of fake and biased news and it infringes on the privacy of people.”

According to ANI, Rajyavardhan Rathore, on Thursday, wrote that his complaint was that Tharoor had gone to the media with his remarks.

“Wrote to Om Birla against Parliamentary IT Committee’s Chairman (Shashi Tharoor) as he flouted rules. We’re not against representative of any organisation being called but he (Tharoor) instead of discussing with us, discusses with media.”
Rajyavardhan Rathore

Rathore and Dubey are members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, which Tharoor heads.

Nikshant Dubey Moves Privilege Motion

BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, on Wednesday, moved a privilege motion against Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor.

"Have moved privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor because in Facebook row he accused BJP of wrongdoings. Accusing the BJP is like accusing all its MPs. Hence its a question of privilege because he questioned the intention, integrity, and honesty of MPs [sic]," Dubey, who's an MP from Jharkhand and a member of the Standing Committee on Information Technology, tweeted on Wednesday.

His privilege motion came over Tharoor’s notice to Facebook for appearing before the committee, reported The Indian Express.

IT Panel to Hear Facebook Execs on Social Media Misuse on 2 Sept
(Screenshot)
IT Panel to Hear Facebook Execs on Social Media Misuse on 2 Sept
(Screenshot)

"Tharoor has surpassed all limits of decency, ethics and basic tenets of Parliamentary procedure and practice vis-a-vis smooth functioning of Parliamentary Committee by way of committing a grave breach of privilege, not only in the capacity of an individual honourable Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha but also remaining in the exalted position of Chairperson of one of the most important departmentally related Standing Committees, viz, Information Technology [sic]," Dubey's notice reportedly said.

Tharoor’s Privilege Motion

This reportedly came after Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who's the chairperson of the Parliament's Standing Committee on IT, gave a notice for breach of privilege against BJP's Dubey for his alleged disparaging remarks, reported news agency IANS.

The Thiruvananthpuram MP alleged that Dubey posted such remarks on social media over his decision to summon the panel's meeting to discuss the alleged "misconduct" of Facebook, the IANS report said.

The Report at the Centre of the Political Storm

The political tug-of-war between the BJP and the Congress started after a report in The Wall Street Journal pointed out how political affiliations have had bearing on the implementation of policies by Facebook in India.

The report revealed how, despite the insistence of Facebook employees to permanently ban the profile of BJP MP T Raja Singh for promoting hate speech, the company's top public policy executive in India, Ankhi Das, blocked applying hate speech rules to Singh.

Singh is not the only BJP leader Das opposed applying hate speech rules to. She never initiated action against at least three other Hindu nationalist groups and individuals who had been flagged internally for promoting or participating in violence, the report said, citing current and former employees of Facebook.

These employees told WSJ that Das had blocked the idea by telling staff members that punishing violations by politicians from PM Narendra Modi’s party would damage the company’s business prospects in India.

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