Twitter meets parliamentary panel: Here’s what the site needs to do for the Lok Sabha polls

After the parliamentary hearing on safeguarding citizens rights on social media, Twitter has been asked to implement some changes.

On Monday, after a parliamentary committee deposed Twitter’s global vice-president of public policy Colin Cromwell, the social media giant has been given a to-do list.

The committee demanded that Twitter do everything in its power to ensure that the Indian general elections are free from any foreign interference.

It added that Twitter should “engage” more with the Election Commission of India (ECI) in “real-time”.

Gathered to discuss “safeguarding citizens rights on social/online media platforms”, this parliamentary committee had plans to meet with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey earlier in February.

However, after Dorsey failed to attend, the committee rescheduled the hearing to this Monday with the assurance that Cromwell and other senior officials would be in attendance.

BJP Member Anurag Thakur, who chaired this committee, said that Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram will appear for a hearing on March 6.

What was the outcome of Twitter’s hearing?

In a meeting that lasted almost four hours, the parliamentary committee told Twitter that it must communicate with the ECI more frequently.

Thakur said that Twitter was asked to “engage more” with the ECI on a “real-time” basis. He added that the general elections should be free of “international interference”.

NDTV reports that the social media giant was “categorically asked to ensure” that the Lok Sabha polls are not compromised by foreign entities operating on its site.

In a statement given to Press Trust of India (PTI), Thakur said that the Twitter officials replied to “most” of the committee’s questions and any unanswered queries will be replied to in 10 days.

Qrius previously reported that the committee was formed following a demonstration outside Twitter India’s Delhi office. The protestors alleged that Twitter was unfairly targeting right-wing users by suspending their accounts.

However, the Wire says that the committee did not discuss those allegations of political bias.

Election protection

Prior to the hearing, Cromwell stated that Twitter is working on implementing certain changes in the run-up to the elections.

“With the upcoming elections, we are working with Indian political parties to verify candidates, elected officials, and relevant party officials whose accounts will be active in the public conversation”, said Cromwell. “We verify these accounts to empower healthy election conversations, and to provide confidence that these public figures are whom they claim to be.”

He added that Twitter will be more transparent in how they enforce their policies to ensure that rumors of political bias are dispelled.

Google and Facebook have also implemented certain regulations for the upcoming elections.

Both companies informed the Bombay High Court that they will have stricter rules for political advertisements.

Specifically, the platforms will require ad buyers to disclose their information and source of funding and display that information to users.

To complete the verification process, Google and Facebook are asking ad buyers to provide government-issued documents for identification and proof of registration for political parties and candidates.

The Supreme Court has also directed the ECI to work with social media platforms and create safeguards for the elections.

Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius

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