Ahead of Parliamentary hearing, Twitter says fighting political bias in India

New Delhi: Geared up to face a 31-member Parliamentary panel hearing on February 11, Twitter on Friday said it is proactively working with the political parties to verify candidates, elected officials and relevant party officials whose accounts will be active in the public conversation. According to Colin Crowell, Global Vice President, Public Policy at Twitter, India is one of its fastest-growing audience markets globally. “We are committed to surfacing all sides of the conversation as we enter the election season in this extraordinarily diverse cultural, political and social climate,” Crowell said in a statement.

We have never been more passionate about our mission to serve our Indian customers and to protect and enhance the national conversation,” he added. According to him, Twitter does not review, prioritise or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology.
“Every Tweet and every account is treated impartially. We apply our policies fairly and judiciously for all,” said Crowell. The House panel has summoned Twitter India along with representatives from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) for the meeting on February 11 at 3 p.m. in the Parliament complex to examine the issue of “safeguarding citizens rights on social media/online news platforms”. The Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur, is tasked with examining several aspects related to data security and privacy. According to the company, political parties themselves select the accounts for verification and then Twitter reviews these accounts to ensure they meet the company’s verification standards. “Twitter verifies these accounts to empower healthy election conversations and to provide confidence that these public figures are whom they claim to be,” the company added. Globally, Twitter has made more than 70 product, policy and operational changes since the beginning of 2018, with the aim of making people feel safe expressing themselves on the service. Crowell said that Twitter will endeavour to be even more transparent in how it develops and enforces its policies to “dispel conspiracy theories and mistrust”. The Twitter hearing comes at a time when the Indian government has also formulated new IT guidelines where social media platforms have to remove within 24 hours any unlawful content that can affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.

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