Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook both stated their opinions on Tuesday to agree to any internet changes made by the Federal government as their companies have continued to be gilled by lawmakers in the United States as being biased against conservative perspectives.
During a judiciary hearing, the big tech executives were asked a number of questions which stemmed from the original topic: how companies handled the 2020 US election. The hearing lasted for a long four-and-half hours and the conversation had also included tech addiction, encryption and antitrust as well as their content moderation policies.
This is the second congressional appearance which was held in less than one month, the hearing shed more light on the way Democrats and Republicans view content moderations. While Republicans generally believe that big tech companies especially the social networking organizations are well against the views of the conservatives, Democrats on the other hand do not trust social media companies to combat misinformation and “hate speech” well enough on their platforms.
One of the main issue prompting to the hearing is the action which both Facebook and Twitter took over the spread of a New York Post article which showed unproven improprieties that involves Joe Biden’s son. With that, Republicans believed that both Social network giants Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t be protected by the Section 230.
“You’re the ultimate editor,” Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who chairs the committee, said about the slowdown of the article. “If that’s not making an editorial decision, I don’t know what would be.”
Senator Ted Cruz who represents Texas told twitter CEO that he would test the company’s policies by tweeting information about voter fraud to see if it gets labelled as disputed. The senator did in fact sent three tweets none of which got labeled as of the time of writing this story.
Here are some other highlights from Tuesday’s hearing:
- Dorsey and Zuckerberg signaled they were open to regulation but cautioned against changes that could harm smaller tech companies and innovation. Dorsey said Congress should consider “additions to Section 230, industrywide self-regulation best practices, or a new legislative framework.” The comments marked the first time Dorsey has supported changes to that law. Zuckerberg said Congress should update Section 230 “to make sure it’s working as intended.”
- Zuckerberg and Dorsey pushed back on the idea they’re publishers. Twitter distributes information, Dorsey said. Facebook is different from news publishers because it doesn’t create content, Zuckerberg said. “I do think that we have responsibilities, and it may make sense for there to be liability for some of the content that is on the platform,” the Facebook boss said.
- Democrats pressed Zuckerberg and Dorsey about whether labeling posts that contain misinformation was effective. Both executives said they were studying the impact of their election efforts. In one tweet, Trump falsely claimed he won the election. Twitter added a label stating that officials might not have called the race. “Do you believe that label goes far enough to prevent the tweet’s harms when the tweet is still visible and not accurate?,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, asked Dorsey. He said he thought so because users got directed to more information.
- Blumenthal asked Zuckerberg if he’d commit to taking down the account of former White House strategist Steve Bannon, who called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and FBI Director Christopher Wray. “No, that’s not what our policies would suggest that we should do in this case,” Zuckerberg said.
- Republicans, such as Cruz and Josh Hawley of Missouri, continued to push accusations that social networks intentionally censor their speech. Cruz said the companies have massive power and told Dorsey that Twitter was “engaged in publishing decisions.”
- Lawmakers from both parties raised concerns about tech addiction and its potential impact on children. Dorsey acknowledged that social media can be addictive, while Zuckerberg said the research was “inconclusive” and most people don’t see the services as addictive.
- Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat from Hawaii, asked how Twitter and Facebook would handle Trump’s account after he ends his presidency. A Twitter public interest policy exempting world leaders from some of its rules won’t apply to Trump when he leaves office, Dorsey said. Zuckerberg said that most of Facebook’s rules, including barring hate speech and voter suppression, don’t have a newsworthiness exemption.