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New Delhi: A parliamentary standing committee on women has asked Facebook and its subsidiary WhatsApp to remove pages related to abusive content about women and children.

After a meeting with representatives from the social media giant, the committee also sought to know the process for removing such content, and asked for a fact-sheet on the total number of such cases in the last year, and the company’s compliance in dealing with them.

The committee is chaired by BJP MP Heena Gavit, and features 20 women members from different parties.

“Facebook was specifically asked to remove abusive content and pages in real time. We asked officials what algorithm and bots are applied by Facebook and WhatsApp to identify such content and bar them in real time,” a member of the committee told ThePrint.

Facebook officials briefed the committee that it has taken new measures to restrict forward messages, but members were not satisfied with the reply, and asked for a report on action taken during the last one year.

Many members of the committee were furious about WhatsApp’s inability to restrict obscene videos and child pornography. One of the members mentioned a recent incident where a rape video was shared widely on WhatsApp. Others pointed out numerous cases when child sex abuse videos went viral, and the company did not delete or restrict their circulation in real time.

The MPs pointed out the changes in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, which have made it more stringent, and asked the tech giant to follow them.

Also read: Facebook reviewing its policy for child abuse videos and underage account holders

Fake news

One of the members of the committee asked the representatives what Facebook and WhatsApp are doing to restrict fake news. Company officials presented facts on how they are working with many tech companies as well as news companies to restrict the practice of fake news.

Some MPs also raised the question of anonymity on social media, which had been discussed in their meeting with Twitter Wednesday.

One of the MPs suggested that the process of verification be made more stringent, so that only real people can become members of social networking sites. Another suggestion was to verify people physically at designated outlets like Paytm to avoid anonymity.

(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)

Also read: Hit by ‘fake news’ on WhatsApp, Indian companies are seeking help from the law


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