At a time when social media giant Facebook is trying to defend itself from a host of allegations, including the promotion of abusive and violent content, levelled against it by its former employees, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information and Technology plans to call the whistleblowers to depose before it after getting the nod of the Lok Sabha speaker, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who is the chairman of the panel, said on Monday.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook data scientist-turned-whistleblower, has alleged that the social network giant’s products harm children and fuel polarisation in the United States. She has testified before the US Senate Committee.
Responding to allegations that neither the Parliament nor the government has called the Facebook whistleblowers, Tharoor, in a series of tweets, said the parliamentary panel did not exist between September 12 and October 12 when the news broke and was officially reconstituted in the second week of October.
“It had to then adopt its agenda, submit it to the speaker and have it bulletinised before it could convene any meeting,” Tharoor, a Congress MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram constituency said.
“…the committee will hold its first meetings of the new session on November 16 and November 17. Under our procedures video conferencing is not permitted. Testimony in person by witnesses from abroad requires the speakers’ consent. This is being sought,” he said.
Top officials of the Indian arms of social media giants Facebook and Twitter and others have deposed before the parliamentary panel on various contentious issues.
Tharoor was earlier criticised by the BJP members of the panel, who sought his removal as its chairman.
(With inputs from agencies)