As India looks to enter to have general polls next month, social media giant Facebook is reportedly planning to start an operations centre in Delhi, which will work with its offices at Menlo Park, Dublin and Singapore, on a 24×7 basis to monitor election content.
Citing Shivnath Thukral, director and public policy in India and South Asia at Facebook, a Livemint report said that the company through this move will constantly stay engaged with the Election Commission of India (ECI) to explore how it can ensure to protect its platform from being misused.
With this, India will become the second country after the US to have an operational centre. While the specific details about the launch of the centre are yet to be known, the centre will be however modelled based on the US centre called War Room, which was launched during the elections.
According to Thukral, multiple cross-functional teams will be working in the centre who will be responsible for monitoring at different aspects of the platform such as content, policy, and legal. Some of the teams will also be working while closely with the Election Commission.
This development comes in a week after the 31-member parliamentary panel of the Indian government questioned the social media companies on how are they ‘safeguarding citizens rights on social/online news media platforms’.
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During the session, the parliamentary panel had also said that companies that the social media platforms cannot operate like news media without accountability.
Facebook has also reportedly given a commitment to the panel that identity, location and who paid for political advertisements during elections will be available on a special web page for users.
Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook has been facing a lot of troubles in India and across the world due to the spread of fake news and its way of handling privacy breaches, especially after the infamous Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal.
In February 2019, the company onboarded five new partners such as India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile and Fact Crescendo as a part of its third-party fact-checking programme to curb the spread of misleading and fake news.
In December 2018, the company had announced stricter controls to keep a check on the political advertisements ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
It directed that an advertiser who wants to run an ad in India related to politics will need to first confirm their identity and location along with details about who placed the ad.
It also launched its online searchable Ad Library for anyone to access. This library provides information about the person or group placing the ads.
Amidst various scandals and breaches, it was also reported in January that. Zuckerberg is looking to integrate Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp and directly control the issues of the three entities. Though in early stages, the company is planning to complete the integration by the end of this year or in early 2020.