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Parliamentary panel turns down Facebook’s call for virtual appearance; says will vaccinate officials

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NEW DELHI: The parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology headed by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Saturday turned down social media giant Facebook’s request for coming for a virtual meeting instead of physical representation citing the company’s Covid policies. The committee also proposed vaccination for the Facebook officials who will come for the meeting with the panel, said sources.
The dates for the said meeting has not been finalised yet.
The parliamentary standing committee has also decided that all other social media and web platforms like YouTube, Google, etc. must send their representations physically before the panel.
In its response to the committee, Facebook said its officers could not appear before the committee as the company’s rules prohibit officials to attend any meeting in person during the period of the second wave of the Covid pandemic. Meanwhile, Facebook officials have decided to appear online, sources told News Today 24.
In view of this response of Facebook, the committee has now adopted a strict stance. All the members of the committee made it clear that no meeting can be held online and the Facebook officials must be present physically.
“Taking cognizance of Facebook’s reply, now the chairman of the committee, sought the list of Facebook officials whom the company wants to send before the committee. The chairman said the committee will provide Covid vaccination to such officials and will also give enough time to come before the committee,” sources told News Today 24.
Asked about Facebook’s stance on the parliamentary panel’s decision, the officials of the company declined to answer.
On Friday, the committee had also called Twitter officials on similar issues and two of their senior officials also appeared before the committee physically.
Notably, the committee has taken cognizance of the fact that social media platforms are being run remotely from outside the country and the rules made by the government are also being ignored.
In Friday’s meeting, both the officials of Twitter told the committee that they “give priority to the rules of their company not law of the land’. The committee then asked Twitter officials to give all their answers in writing. However, the panel meeting date will be decided later this month.
The committee is particularly concerned about the misuse of social media platforms regarding the propagation of rumours as well as women’s safety.

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