The parliamentary standing committee on Information Technology (IT) has asked representatives of Facebook to present their views on ‘safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms, including special emphasis on women security in the digital space,’ during its sitting on September 2.
The development is significant as Facebook representatives will be required to address allegations of not taking down hate speech posted by members of the ruling party of India from the social media platform.
Head of the parliamentary committee, Shashi Tharoor, had stated that it will look into the matter and would like to “hear from Facebook about these reports and what they propose to do about hate-speech in India.”
A recent article from the Wall Street Journal had reported that Facebook’s public policy head in India, Ankhi Das, had “opposed applying hate-speech rules to Mr Singh (BJP MLA T Raja Singh) and at least three other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups flagged internally for promoting and participating in violence..”
India is one of Menlo Park, California headquartered Facebook’s key markets. The firm which counts over 400 million monthly active users on its chat app WhatsApp has previously courted controversy as reports on surveillance of 19 Indians through Israeli spyware firm NSO emerged in November 2019. WhatsApp filed a lawsuit against the company for cyberattack which occurred in May.
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) has previously stated that traceability of WhatsApp messages will be covered as part of amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011 for tracking hate-speech and forwarded messages which have led to instances of lynching.