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Committed to remain unbiased, says Twitter India facing allegations of political bias
Twitter handle of Colin Crowell

Committed to remain unbiased, says Twitter India facing allegations of political bias

| @indiablooms | 08 Feb 2019, 09:38 pm

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IBNS): Days ahead of its scheduled meeting with the 31-member Parliamentary panel amid accusations of its anti-right wing bias, micro-blogging site Twitter on Friday said it is committed to remain unbiased with the public interest in mind. 

"There has been a lot of discussion about Twitter and political bias in India in recent weeks and the global real time communication platform today set the record straight," the company said in a statement amid widespread criticism from various groups that Twitter is playing a partisan role and not facilitating the publicity of contents that are right wing.

The Parliamentary Committee on Information Technology has summoned Twitter India for its alleged “anti-right-wing bias”.

The committee is headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Anurag Thakur and it has summoned Twitter India along with representatives from Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity).

Several news organisations have also faced problem with promoting news on Twitter which are against the ruling nationalist government's political rivals. Twitter of late has rejected promotion of unbiased news contents which apparently go against the ruling BJP's political opposition. 

"Whether it’s trends, the content that appears in users’ timelines, or how the company enforces its policies, Twitter believes in impartiality and does not take any actions based upon political views or viewpoints. Twitter’s product and policies are never developed nor evolved on the basis of political ideology," the company said in the statement.

Twitter has made more than 70 product, policy, and operational changes since the beginning of 2018, all with the aim of making people feel safe expressing themselves on the service. Abuse and hateful conduct comes from accounts across the ideological spectrum and Twitter will continue to take action when its rules are broken.

Colin Crowell, Global VP - Public Policy, Twitter said, “Twitter does not review, prioritize, or enforce its policies on the basis of political ideology. Every Tweet and every account is treated impartially. We apply our policies fairly and judiciously for all. If there are “false positive” decisions, these are not political statements of intent; they are the basic human error rate of running the fastest, most open conversational tool in history.”

"Twitter has a specialized, global team that enforces the Twitter Rules with impartiality. Twitter India employees do not make enforcement decisions. This is by design to ensure fairness and objectivity.

Trending topics is an area where Twitter sees regular speculation and charges leveled against the company, often with no factual basis. Trends are topics that are popular right now, rather than topics that have been popular for a while or on a daily basis.

Trends are not calculated by the total number of Tweets on a topic alone -- the total number of Tweets is just one factor when ranking and determining trends.

"A very important factor in determining trends is the number of Tweets in a given time period (i.e. velocity), which is not necessarily related to the total number of Tweets (i.e. volume). When topics fall off the trending topic list, it’s because the volume and velocity has dissipated. Trending topics - at their core - are driven by impartial, purpose-built algorithms. Claims to the contrary are wrong," said the statement.

"There are only very rare instances where Twitter will prevent certain content from trending. This is outlined in the Twitter Rules and occurs most often when trends contain profanity or adult/graphic references, incite hate on the basis of a protected characteristic, or violate the Twitter Rules. These decisions are made by trained experts and never on the basis of political ideology," it said.

Remarking on maintaining the platform’s integrity as the nation approaches the upcoming election, Colin Crowell, Global VP - Public Policy, Twitter, said “India is the world’s largest democracy, and one of our fastest-growing audience markets globally. Twitter’s real-time and open nature facilitates robust civic engagement on topics of national and local interest during elections.

"We are committed to surfacing all sides of the conversation as we enter the election season in this extraordinarily diverse cultural, political and social climate. We have never been more passionate about our mission to serve our Indian customers and to protect and enhance the national conversation. For our part, we will endeavor to be even more transparent in how we develop and enforce our policies to dispel conspiracy theories and mistrust.”

The parliamentary committee has also called officials from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).

The meeting, which will discuss the issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights on the social media platform, will be held on Feb 11 at 3 pm in New Delhi.

Last year, the Centre had issued a notice to Facebook, asking for its response over the Cambridge Analytica data breach .


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