Ensure no foreign influence in 2019 polls’: Parliamentary panel tells Twitter

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Colin Crowell, global vice president for public policy, met the parliamentary panel on Information Technology headed by BJP lawmaker Anurag Thakur.

A parliamentary panel on Monday asked microblogging site Twitter to ensure that elections in India are not influenced by foreign entities in an apparent reference to complaints of interference by social media platforms in the 2016 US elections.

Colin Crowell, global vice president for public policy, met the parliamentary panel on Information Technology headed by BJP lawmaker Anurag Thakur. Twitter was told to work closely with the Election Commission and address issues flagged by it.

“The Lok Sabha elections should be free and fair. There should not be the kind of complaints as in the US,” Thakur was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.

The panel told Twitter that there must be clarity and transparency regarding advertisements and sponsored content on the platform. The panel also summoned senior officials of other social media platforms Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram on March 6.

On February 11, the parliamentary panel has summoned the chief executive officer (CEO) of Twitter, Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 25, after declining to meet representatives from India who appeared before the panel in his stead.

The panel had expressed concern over how algorithms are channelised in India, and has also sought to know the details about the funding of advertisements that appear on the platform.

Colin Crowell has said earlier that the 2019 general elections are a priority for Twitter and it respects the integrity of the election process.”The 2019 Lok Sabha is a priority for the company and our dedicated cross-functional team is working to ensure that the health of the public conversation is enhanced and protected at this important time,” said Crowell.

Political groups campaigning on Twitter in the Lok Sabha polls will be forced to register with the social media platform as part of tougher advertising rules designed to protect elections from foreign interference.

Twitter had said it will expand its political ads policy and transparency approach to include India, Australia and all European Union member states.

“This comes as a part of Twitter’s overall commitment to protect the health of the public conversation on its service and to provide meaningful context around all political entities who use its advertising products,” the company said in a statement.

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