Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Won’t Meet Indian Parliamentary Panel

Facebook is sending its global policy head for a hearing with the IT wing of the Indian Parliamentary Committee.

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Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook making a statement to the US Senate. 
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Social networking giant Facebook has confirmed that CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg are not travelling to India for a hearing with the Parliamentary Panel on 6 March.

Instead, Facebook is sending Joel Kaplan, Vice President, Global Public Policy for the hearing, where he’ll also represent its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram and talk about what they are doing to safeguard citizen rights across its platforms.

Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Editor, Facebook India and Ankhi Das, Director Public, Policy and Programmes, will accompany Kaplan, sources told IANS on Sunday.

Joel Kaplan, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Facebook
Joel Kaplan, Vice President, Global Public Policy, Facebook
Photo: Twitter

It seems Zuckerberg has taken Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s cue to skip the hearing, where the social networking giant is likely to grilled over its plans during this year’s General Elections in India.

"Senior Facebook officials will appear on 6 March before a parliamentary panel to outline the specific measures undertaken to ensure safety of users on its platform after being summoned by the committee," said sources.

Their turn comes after Colin Crowell, Global Vice President of Public Policy of Twitter, deposed before the BJP MP Anurag Thakur-led panel on February 25 and discussed how it is going to help address issues such as political bias and manipulation on its platform in real-time.

Twitter was told to send back answers to some of the unanswered queries during the hearing within a 10-day time frame.

"The Parliamentary Committee on IT will now examine the issue of 'Safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms'. The following will present their positions: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram," Thakur had tweeted last month.

As India gears up for the general election, owners of global social media platforms are in a huddle over how to curb the spread of misinformation and fake news in a country where deep mobile penetration has helped Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram reach millions.

Facebook has close to 300 million users and WhatsApp over 200 million. According to statista.com, Instagram has nearly 75 million users in India.

In the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, Facebook has brought a new tool aimed at bringing transparency to ads related to politics in the country.

Anyone who runs ads related to politics in India will have to reveal their identity and location to pass the authorisation process and have a "Published by" or "Paid for by" label.

Facebook also introduced for registered political parties in India an option to upload their Media Certification and Monitoring Committee Certificate from the Election Commission of India.

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