India parliamentary panel to question Facebook on content controversy

An Indian parliamentary committee will question Facebook (FB.O) executives on how the social media giant regulates political content in the country, a panel member told Reuters on Friday, following controversy about its practices, Reuters reports.

Facebook and its top lobbying executive in India, Ankhi Das, are facing criticism after a news report said she opposed applying hate-speech rules to a politician from India’s ruling party.

Facebook has been summoned to appear on Sept. 2 before the information technology panel, which considers issues like social media abuse. The discussion with Facebook will last for 30 minutes, according to a notice published late on Thursday.

“The subject is serious because of Facebook’s extensive reach in India ... and the potential for hate speech to incite violence and other unlawful behaviour,” said the panel member, who declined to be identified.

“How worrying this is, is to be determined after a hearing process is concluded.”

Facebook - which has more than 300 million users in India, its biggest market - did not respond to a request for comment.

Facebook has long faced criticism for high-profile content moderation issues.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that Das told staff that applying hate-speech rules to politicians close to India’s ruling party “would damage the company’s business prospects in the country”.

Facebook has been battling political fallout in India since.

The opposition Congress Party criticised Facebook for its policies, while some ruling-party lawmakers have accused it of censoring nationalist voices.


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