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    Delhi Assembly panel to issue 'final notice' to FB after representative skips proceedings

    Synopsis

    The panel had issued a notice to Facebook India vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan last week, asking him to appear before it on September 15 in connection with complaints about the social media giant's alleged deliberate inaction to curb hateful content in the country.

    Reuters
    Last month, Facebook had said its social media platform prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence.
    NEW DELHI: Delhi Assembly's Committee on Peace and Harmony probing the hate speech matter linked to Facebook and Delhi riots said on Tuesday it will issue fresh summons to Facebook and its India MD Ajit Mohan under principles of natural justice after Facebook's executives failed to appear before the committee as asked.

    In live proceedings, AAP MLA and committee head Raghav Chadha said Facebook's refusal to appear before the committee is an attempt to conceal crucial facts and evidence in relation to Facebook's role in the February 2020 Delhi communal riots violence.

    He said Facebook conveyed to the committee through a letter dated September 13 that it has appeared before the parliamentary panel and that regulations of intermediaries like Facebook fall within the exclusive authority of union of India. As per Chadha, the letter signed by Vikram Langeh, director of trust and safety at Facebook to the committee also stated the subject of law and order in the NCT of Delhi also falls within the exclusive domain of the union of India.

    "It shows Facebook has something to hide and allegations on Facebook linked to Delhi riots are probably not pointless. Refusal to appear before the committee is contempt of the Delhi legislative assembly. Delhi's voters choose those who sit in the assembly. It is also contempt of the two crore citizens of Delhi," Chadha said.

    "We will give one last chance to Facebook's India MD Ajit Mohan under principles of natural justice to appear before the committee. Facebook has been advised very wrongly on this. If a matter is being probed by the parliamentary committee, it doesn't mean that the Delhi legislative assembly cannot discuss it. State legislature functions independently of the parliament," he added.

    A committee member said the Committee on Peace and Harmony is a statutory committee and Facebook's reply was vague, evasive and that it was overstepping its authority. "The fact that they are refusing to appear before the committee shows that they are guilty. This is an attempt to undermine the authority of this committee. If they still refuse to come, we should adopt more coercive measures," he said.

    In its letter to the committee Facebook said given that the issues raised by the notice involve subject matter within the exclusive domain of union of India, and that the matters are under active consideration by parliament, it respectfully objects to the notice and requests the committee to recall it.

    Facebook did not respond to an email seeking comments on the Committee's decision to issue fresh summons.

    "The fresh summons will be a final warning to Facebook. If they still refuse to come, the committee will not hesitate to use all its powers including coercive measures," Chadha said.

    The committee decided to summon Facebook after it found that the social media platform was allegedly complicit in aggravating the Northeast Delhi riots, which claimed 54 lives.

    In its last two hearings, members had accused the company of "double standards" when it came to its content moderation in India and other countries.

    The panel had called experts and victims who had talked about alleged hate speech posts that were widely liked and shared on platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp and were not taken down despite repeated requests.

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    1 Comment on this Story

    sandeepan pahari39 days ago
    Typical strong-arm tactics by AAP to remain relevant in Delhi politics. This stupid Raghav Chaddha should first reply why AAP encouraged actors to misuse FB and BuzzFeed during 2019 Delhi elections ?
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