Executives from social media giants Facebook and Twitter, who appeared before a parliamentary committee on Thursday, January 21, faced tough questions on why they blocked the accounts of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in November 2020 and what gave them the rights to do it, NDTV reported.
Responding to the question, Twitter officials explained that they had to block the account temporarily due to a copyright issue regarding a picture posted.
The panel, led by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, met Facebook's Public Policy Director Shivnath Thukral and Mahima Kaul, Public Policy Director, India & South Asia, Twitter, along with other officials from both platforms.
When the Home Minister's account was blocked, Twitter had cited "inadvertent error" under its copyright policies as the reason. "This decision was reversed immediately and the account is fully functional," the social media giant had said.
The motive of the meeting involved safeguarding citizens' rights, preventing misuse of social news media platforms and security of women in the digital space. Other key issues included concerns over privacy, monetisation of data and the misinformation in social media.
Focusing on hate speech, Both Twitter and Facebook said that they have strict rules regarding the content and would remove content when necessary to ensure it does not provoke violence.
In India, Facebook had landed in a controversy in September 2020 after US publication Wall Street Journal in one of its reports said that it had overlooked hate speech posted by leaders of the ruling BJP.
WSJ also reported that Facebook's then India policy chief Ankhi Das had said that punishing violations by BJP workers "would damage the company's business prospects in the country".
On Thursday, Facebook also explained its policy on the new privacy laws of WhatsApp, which have raised massive privacy concerns in India. The social media giant said that there is no plan to integrate the two platforms, though WhatsApp is currently integrated with Instagram.