CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google face Senate hearing

Big tech seeks to retain 230 protections and defend content moderation

The senate floor during a vote

Today, the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter will appear before the Senate Commerce Committee to answer questions about the social platforms’ alleged conservative bias. Lawmakers are also threatening to change Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies’ ability to moderate user-generated content.

The hearing, which began livestreaming at 10:00 a.m. ET, is taking place less than one week before the US presidential election, and the social media companies have been preparing to deal with election misinformation campaigns. Republicans have accused Facebook and Twitter of bias, censorship and election interference due to their actions to slow the spread of fake and content.

The Senate Commerce Committee released a video before the hearing about the social platforms’ bias against conservative accounts. However, independent studies have determined there is no substantial evidence of the social media companies’ bias against right-wing posts.

"We ensure that all decisions are made without using political viewpoints, party affiliation, or political ideology, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce the Twitter Rules," said Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. "Our Twitter Rules are not based on ideology or a particular set of beliefs. We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our Twitter Rules fairly."

According to Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, the company conducts its business without political bias. 

"To do otherwise would be contrary to both our business interests and our mission, which compels us to make information accessible to every type of person, no matter where they live or what they believe," said Pichai.

Section 230 will be central to the hearing. Social media companies have invoked this law in numerous court cases to dismiss lawsuits about their users’ messages, videos and other content. According to Section 230, "interactive computer services" are legally separate from users who generate this content. So, no one can accuse Twitter, Google and Facebook of publishing or "speaking" their users’ words. 

The courts have accepted Section 230 as a defense against defamation, negligence and other allegations in numerous cases. The social media CEOs have stated Section 230’s importance to their businesses and how reducing its effectiveness would lead to more content takedowns.

"I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators, which is why in March last year I called for regulation on harmful content, privacy, elections, and data portability,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook. “We stand ready to work with Congress on what regulation could look like in these areas." 

There have been more attacks on Section 230 recently because Facebook and Twitter have limited the distribution of New York Post’s articles about "smoking-gun" emails about Hunter Biden, the son of Joe Biden, and his dealings in Ukraine. 

Facebook decided to "reduce distribution" of the article "pending fact-check review" as part of its policy against misinformation. Twitter blocked users from tweeting links to the story under its policy against spreading "hacked materials." 

It’s not clear whether the emails attributed to Hunter Biden were hacked, copied, or fabricated. According to a US official and a congressional source familiar with the matter, US authorities are investigating the connection between the published emails and Russian disinformation efforts targeting the Biden campaign.

Featured Resources

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Iranian hacking group continues to target US citizens
hacking

Iranian hacking group continues to target US citizens

18 Oct 2021
Facebook claims AI managed to reduce hate speech by 50%
social media

Facebook claims AI managed to reduce hate speech by 50%

18 Oct 2021
Facebook to hire 10,000 workers across the EU
social media

Facebook to hire 10,000 workers across the EU

18 Oct 2021
Ennoconn and Google Cloud enter a strategic alliance
Cloud

Ennoconn and Google Cloud enter a strategic alliance

14 Oct 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Network & Internet

HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

15 Oct 2021
What is cyber warfare?
Security

What is cyber warfare?

15 Oct 2021