Officials of microblogging site Twitter, who appeared before a parliamentary panel on Thursday, faced rigorous questioning for blocking the account of Home Minister Amit Shah in November last year. 

BJP members of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology chaired by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asked Mahima Kaul, Twitter's Public Policy Director for India and South Asia and other officials as to why the Twitter account of the union home minister was suspended for 30 minutes last year. 

In response, the Twitter officials said that the action was taken as per their policy after the platform's algorithms flagged a copyright issue on home minister's profile picture. They told the committee that the account was restored within half an hour after the matter was clarified, multiple media reports say. 

Amit Shah
Home Minister Amit ShahTwitter@AmitShah

In November last year, Twitter had removed the profiled picture of Shah's account, with a message reading - "this image has been removed in response to a report from a copyright holder". 

Later, the social media giant had clarified that it was an "inadvertent error" under its copyright policies. "This decision was reversed immediately and the account is fully functional," a Twitter spokesperson had said.

Trump's account ban and backlash in India

Earlier this month, Twitter first temporarily and then permanently suspended the account of the then US President Donald Trump following riots at the US Capitol by his supporters. Twitter had said that Trump's tweets posted a risk of "further incitement of violence". 

Twitter's move was, however, seen as misuse of power to suppress the voices of users, among BJP supporters with many of its MPs and seniors leaders giving a call to boycott the platform and demanding strict regulations. They questioned how social media platforms could remove content when there is no law against it in India.

Twitter India

Twitter and Facebook had said that they have strict rules in place with regard to content and that they remove content violatiing their policy -- including those spreading hate or inciting violence. 

In September last year, Facebook landed in controversy after a report in Wall Street Journal said that the social media giant had overlooked hate speech posted by BJP leaders and right-wing Hindu groups. 

The report had claimed that Facebook's then Indian policy head Ankhi Das had weighed in against taking action against accounts and pages linked to these groups over a possibility of damage of "business prospects in the country". 

WhatsApp privacy policy

Officials of Facebook, who also appeared before the parliamentary panel, put forth an explanation regarding the new privacy policy introduced by WhatsApp, which has raised concerns in India. 

facebook instagram whatsapp

The Facebook officials said that there was no plan to integrate Facebook and WhatsApp. 

On the issue of monetization of user data, the officials said that though the lion's share of their revenue comes from advertisement, at no point did they share users' data with advertisers.