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Facebook dodges Delhi panel’s summon


Top executives of Facebook India on Tuesday dodged the hearing of the Peace and Harmony Committee of the Delhi Assembly. Facebook officials said they have already appeared before a Parliamentary panel.  It added that since the Parliament is seized with the matter, the Delhi Assembly committee should withdraw the summons.

The social media giant, in a letter to the committee, said the “regulation of intermediaries like Facebook falls within the authority of the Central government”. It also said that the subject of “law and order” in Delhi falls within the domain of the Central government.

The Peace and Harmony Committee had earlier summoned Facebook India’s vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan. He was summoned citing “complaints alleging deliberate inaction by the social media platform in applying hate speech rules which allegedly led to the disruption of peace across Delhi”.

Delhi Assembly panel to issue fresh summons

Raghav Chadha, who heads the Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony’ Committee, said the company’s letter is in disregard of the committee’s privilege. He also said that fresh summons will be issued.

“Facebook’s refusal to appear before the committee is an attempt to conceal crucial facts in relation to its role in the Delhi riots. A fresh summons will be issued to it in line with principles of natural justice,” Raghav Chadha said.

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The panel on peace and harmony was set up after Delhi witnessed its worst riots in decades over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in February this year.

The committee last month had raised questions about the content posted on the social media platform at the time the violence broke out in Delhi.

Controversy erupted after US media reports

A controversy erupted in India after the US media reported about the alleged bias of Facebook when it comes to applying filters on hate speeches by BJP leaders. In fact, Congress wrote a letter to Facebook demanding action against those responsible.

In the letter written to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Congress has accused the social media giant of interfering with the country’s electoral democracy. Congress has already demanded a time-bound high-level inquiry into the conduct of the Facebook India leadership team and its operations.

The BJP had also attacked the social media giant for its alleged bias against pages supporting right-wing ideology. The BJP’s attack on Facebook was led by Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

Notably, BJP is the top advertiser on Facebook when it comes to political parties in India.


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