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Bias charge: Parliamentary panel summons Twitter CEO to appear before it on Feb 25

Last year, Twitter came under similar fire in the US, especially involving "shadow-banning". (Image source: Reuters)

The Parliamentary panel on Information Technology Monday summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 25, reported PTI. Two days after saying its senior officials can’t appear before the parliamentary committee citing ‘short notice’, the Twitter team, including Twitter India representatives, arrived at the Parliament on Monday for the hearing.

Twitter is accused of an alleged bias against right-wing voices on its platform. After the accusations, the company reiterated that it is impartial and "does not take any action based upon political views".

Also Read : Twitter says can't appear before panel, BJP warns of repercussions

The background

The issue was first highlighted on February 3 after at least 20 people met the parliamentary committee’s chairman, Lok Sabha MP Anurag Thakur, apprising him of a document that outlined alleged bias against right-wing voices.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology had then summoned Twitter via a letter to "examine" the issue of citizens' rights on "social or online news media platforms" on February 11. While the committee has summoned Twitter CEO on February 25, the last day of the Parliament interim budget proceedings will likely end on February 13. The standing committee can still deliberate on other issues well beyond the last date of current Lok Sabha proceedings.

A large group of right-wing supporters had later assembled in front of Twitter India's office in New Delhi, protesting alleged suspensions of accounts that support their political ideology.

In India, right-wing accounts, including those who are supportive of the BJP, have alleged that the platform has been biased against them, with claims that Twitter leans heavily in favour of left-wing accounts, which are not suspended even for hate-speech or abusive posts.

Twitter said ‘short notice’ for senior officials to fly down to Delhi

In a statement issued last Saturday, Twitter said, "Given the short notice of the hearing, we informed the Committee that it would not be possible for senior officials from Twitter to travel from the United States to appear on Monday. Our CEO, Jack Dorsey, and other senior Twitter executives visited India in recent weeks because it is an important market for Twitter and we value the growing interest in Twitter in India."

The statement added that the company could send representatives from Twitter India to appear before the panel "or to work with the Lok Sabha Secretariat to find more suitable dates so that a senior Twitter official can attend".

Govt calls Twitter’s response ‘cold’

Government sources, in the meantime, had called Twitter's response to the summons "cold". "They don't appear keen to participate in our proceedings," confirmed a source in the parliamentary panel to The Indian Express, adding that Twitter India officials "do not have enforcement authority".

Last year, Twitter came under similar fire in the US, especially involving "shadow-banning". The controversy culminated in a US Congressional hearing summoning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who denied accusations that Twitter's algorithms discriminate against Republican voices.