Ensure poll is not influenced, parliamentary panel tells Twitter

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey once again skips the meeting.

A parliamentary committee, headed by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, on Monday asked Twitter to ensure that Indian elections were not undermined and influenced by foreign entities.

The Standing Committee on Information and Technology had summoned Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, but he skipped the meeting for the second time in a row. Colin Crowell, Head of Global Public Policy and Philanthropy at Twitter, led the company’s team at the meeting. A letter by Mr. Dorsey to the committee was read out.

According to sources, Mr. Thakur also told the Twitter team that there should be “clarity and transparency” in respect of advertisements and sponsored content on the platform. The Twitter officials were also told that there should not be any “international interference” in the Lok Sabha election.

The committee has given 10 days to reply, in writing, to questions posed by the members. The committee will meet next on March 6, and officials of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram have been invited for this meeting.

The message to the micro-blogging site was in an apparent reference to complaints of interference by social media platforms in the U.S. elections, the sources said.

A few members said the committee should not meet when Parliament was not in session. “The standing committees are instrument of Parliament, and therefore they are accountable to Parliament. When Parliament is not session, there is no point in holding the meeting. Who will we present the report to?” an Opposition MP said. Of the 31 members of the committee, only nine attended the meeting.

The committee decided to summon Twitter officials after BJP leaders and workers protested its alleged “anti-right wing” bias. The meeting was first scheduled on February 7, but was postponed to February 11 so as to enable Mr. Dorsey to attend.

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