MUMBAI (Reuters) – Twitter Inc impulse rent in India and the appointment of an officer for contacts with the Election Commission (EC), a senior executive said on Tuesday, responding to concerns about the political abuse of social media ahead of this year’s general elections.
Colin Crowell, Twitter’s Global Vice President of Public policy, poses for a photo at a hotel in New Delhi, India, February 26, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Speaking a day after an Indian parliamentary committee told that the company engage more with the Election of the Commission to ensure a free and fair vote, Twitter’s global head of public policy, Colin Crowell, told Reuters the election was a top priority for the company.
Crowell said that he had told the panel that “we will definitely have a process and mechanism in place to solve problems that occur during the election period”. The company was willing to comply with a request to hire an officer to make contact with the Election Commission, he said in an interview.
India has one of the largest Internet markets, has intensified supervision of the social media companies to curb the spread of so-called fake news and prevent foreign interference in the election, due by May, and in which Prime minister Narendra Modi is seeking a second term.
Twitter is also in the process of hiring a country head for India, Crowell said, declining to give a specific timeline. Twitter former India head, Taranjeet Singh, performed at the end of last year and the other executive is currently serving as the interim head of the local activities.
Calling India an “incredibly important” market, Crowell said that the company was planning to invest “, both in personnel and in the platform, particularly because we have these important elections are coming here”. He did not elaborate.
However, Crowell was also criticism of the draft rules in December by the technology of the ministry, but yet to be formalized, which, if implemented, will impose rules on social media companies like Twitter and Facebook. They include the removal within 24 hours of content deemed illegal, everything including impact on the “sovereignty and integrity of India”.
“Definitely state of the technology companies to pro-actively police platforms to remove illegal content put those platforms in a quasi-judicial role,” Crowell said, adding the objections of civil society groups on the proposals of the “appropriate”.
Jeff Paine, managing Director of the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), said in a statement in the last month of the proposed regulations are too broad, contain text that is vague and ambiguous, and the imposition of “burdensome obligations” on social media companies.
Crowell also said that Twitter was aware that, worldwide, there are attempts to manipulate calls, the search and trending topics on the platform.
“That is why we have doubled down on the technologies and machine learning, and our anti-spam own tools to go after that content at scale, on a global basis,” he said.
Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Euan Rocha and Frances Kerry