New Delhi: Hearing view of officials from social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology underscored the importance of protecting citizens’ data as much as the national security.

Elections, national security and protecting citizens’ data is our top priority, send us clear written replies in ten days,” it told officials from Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram.

When the panel asked if Facebook was serving the society or ending up dividing it, Facebook ended up saying it was a ‘hybrid company’. It could also not provide any clarity on which regulatory framework applied to its content, advertising and marketing operations in India.”

ANI also reported that Facebook Global Policy Head has apologised to the panel for remarks made by Facebook employees on terrorism and the Pulwama attacks.

According to sources, the members of the parliamentary standing committee also directed the social media companies to tell as to how they intend to address issues like political bias and manipulation on their platforms. They were asked give a detailed presentation before the parliamentary panel during the next hearing.

On behalf of Facebook, its Vice-President Joel Kaplan (Global Public Policy) appeared before the Parliamentary panel and elaborated on what they were doing to safeguard the citizen’s rights across platforms.

During the hearing, he also apologised for remarks made by Facebook employees on terrorism and Pulwama attack.

Sources also said that no one from Twitter appeared before the panel. After the meeting, Thakur said, “We asked them to ensure their platforms aren’t used to create division in society, incite violence, pose threat to India’s security or let foreign powers meddle in Indian elections.”

On February 25, Twitter Vice-President (Public Policy) Colin Crowell had deposed before the Anurag Thakur-led panel. Crowell had spoken about how the micro-blogging site would help address issues like political bias and manipulation on its platform.