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How the Parliamentary Panel on Twitter is Tackling Bias by Reinforcing It

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Round one of the bout between the parliamentary panel on information technology, led by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, and representatives of Twitter ended as expected – an extension. The committee asked Twitter’s global CEO, Jack Dorsey to appear before it on February 25 to answer to charges of a ‘liberal’ bias that drowns out right-wing voices.

In an age of nanosecond attention spans, it allows the controversy to remain in the news cycle as the BJP drums up its supporters – ironically, on Twitter – to rally support for its case.

Twitter has just 350 million active users globally, a fraction of Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion – which begs the question of why parliament has decided to go after a platform that is perhaps the lowest in the hierarchy of usage and profit across the social media landscape. The answer lies, not in its numbers, but in politics.

For its size, Twitter punches well above its weight. Unlike its contemporaries, Twitter’s significantly smaller user base seems much more engaged on issues that dominate the news cycle in a public space. Global leaders – presidents and prime ministers, celebrities and strongmen alike engage directly with users, and sometimes with each other too via their tweets, bypassing an entire ecosystem of official communications, press conferences and statements in the mass news media.

They make news and often set the agenda for nightly debates on television in India in under 280 characters. Its ability to influence news agendas and mobilise support or dissent (whichever way you look at it), in spite of its size, seems formidable globally.

During the 2014 general election, the social........

© The Wire