Facebook Vice-President Joel Kaplan (Global Public Policy) will appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology (IT), here on March 6, to elucidate what it and its subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram are doing to safeguard the citizen rights across platforms. “Senior Facebook officials will appear on March 6 before a parliamentary panel to outline the specific measures taken to ensure the safety of users on its platform,” sources told IANS on Sunday.
Ajit Mohan, Vice President and Managing Director of Facebook India, and Ankhi Das, Director (Public, Policy and Programmes) will accompany Kaplan, sources said. CEO Mark Zuckerberg or COO Sheryl Sandberg are not traveling to India for the hearing. The Facebook officials’ presentation will follow the appearance of Colin Crowell, Global Vice-President (Public Policy) of Twitter, before the Anurag Thakur-led panel on February 25. Crowell had spoken about how the microblogging site would help address issues like political bias and manipulation on its platform.
Twitter was also asked to reply to some of the unanswered queries within 10 days. In his tweet last month, Thakur said: “The Parliamentary Committee will now examine the issue of ‘safeguarding citizen rights on social/online news media platforms’. The following will present their positions: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram.”
As India gears up for general elections, global social media platforms are discussing how to curb misinformation and fake news in a country where mobile penetration has helped Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram reach millions of users. Facebook has close to 300 million users and WhatsApp over 200 million. According to statista.com, Instagram has nearly 75 million users in India.
In the runup to the Lok Sabha polls, Facebook has introduced a new tool to bring transparency to ads related to politics. Anyone who runs ads related to politics will have to reveal their identity and location to pass the authorization process and have a “Published by” or “Paid for by” label.
“The tool comes with some India-specific features,” Shivnath Thukral, Facebook’s Public Policy Director for India and South Asia, told IANS recently. “The law of the land does not require us to make the ‘Paid for by’ label mandatory in India,” Thukral said. Another India-first feature that Facebook has introduced is that advertisers can begin the authorizations on their mobile phones itself instead of logging in to a desktop.
For registered political parties in India, Facebook has also introduced an option to upload media certification and monitoring committee certificate from the Election Commission of India. “In our conversation with Election Commission, we learned it is essential to give political parties the option to upload the certificate,” Thukral said.