Colin Crowell, Twitter’s Global Vice-President of Public Policy, appeared Monday before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which is looking into “Safeguarding Citizens’ Rights on Social/Online News Media Platforms”.
Anurag Thakur, chairman of the committee, told The Indian Express later: “To the questions that remained unanswered today, they will send responses in writing in 10 days. Twitter may be called again after seeing the responses.”
The panel has called upon representatives of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to appear for their next meeting on March 6.
It is learnt that several issues were unanimously raised in the roughly three-hour meeting, including telling Twitter to respond to flags by Election Commission within two to three hours and to appoint a nodal officer that is on call during election season. Twitter is said to have accepted these directions.
Concerns were also raised about a difficult grievance redressal system when accounts are suspended, and the platform was told to give users an opportunity to rectify their behavior before suspending their accounts.
It is learnt that Crowell maintained that Twitter is a marketplace for transparent discussion and dialogue of ideas, and follows the rules of the land. Twitter also said it will enhance its infrastructure and investment in adapting to Indian society.
This comes after a complaint was submitted to the committee chairman, alleging anti-right wing bias on the platform, including suspension of right-wing accounts and loss of followers for similar accounts.
The parliamentary committee wrote to Twitter asking representatives to appear before the panel. It later called the CEO or senior most functionaries in the company. Twitter responded that the CEO would not be able to attend because of short notice.
Last year, Twitter came under similar fire in the US, leading to a US Congressional hearing summoning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey who denied accusations that Twitter’s algorithms discriminate against Republican voices.