Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will not appear before the Parliamentary panel on IT on February 25, and instead the company is sending its Head of Public Policy Colin Crowell. The meeting had been called against the backdrop of growing concerns about safeguarding citizens’ data privacy and the possibility of social media platforms being used to interfere in the upcoming elections.
The Parliamentary panel on Information Technology had summoned Twitter head Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 25, and had refused to meet “junior officials” of the microblogging site during its meeting on February 11. Twitter earlier today released a statement stating that Jack Dorsey won’t be appearing before the committee and instead the company is sending Colin Crowell.
“We thank the Parliamentary Committee for its invitation to hear Twitter’s views on ‘Safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms’. These are issues for all Internet services globally… Colin Crowell, Global Vice President of Public Policy for Twitter, will meet with the Committee on Monday,” a Twitter spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement on Friday.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the government has been warning social media platforms of strong action if any attempt was made to influence the country’s electoral process through undesirable means. Sources said on February 11, the committee had refused to meet junior officials from Twitter’s India office who were present at the meeting venue. The panel passed an unanimous resolution that the microblogging site’s CEO should make himself available to show the company’s seriousness in safeguarding rights of Indian citizens online, they added.
As per the resolution, the panel would hear only the Twitter CEO or senior member of its global team “who has decision making authority regarding Twitter’s operations in India,” one of the sources had said. Even as it faces heat over allegations of political bias in the country, Twitter has maintained that it is committed to remain unbiased and that its product as well as policies are never based on political ideology. The government has been taking a strong view of misuse of social media platforms and is also proposing to amend IT rules to curb fake news and increase accountability of such apps.
Over the last few weeks, Facebook, Twitter and Google have promised to infuse more transparency into political advertisements on their platform, and announced a slew of measures as part of their election integrity efforts. On Thursday, Twitter said it has formed an internal, cross-functional group to lead “electoral integrity work” in India that will proactively support partner escalations, and identify potential threats from malicious actors. The US-based company had also stated that its teams are working closely with political parties across the spectrum to train them on using Twitter to best engage with their constituents.