Facebook and Twitter defended the treatment of misinformation about the US election during Tuesday’s incandescent congressional hearing, where a prominent senator attacked the platforms for being the “ultimate editor” of political news.
The hearing, the second in less than a month, took place with social media under fire from critics from both left and right for dealing with political content during the US presidential campaign.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified remotely for the session, which was called to discuss “censorship and removal of news articles” and “tackling the 2020 election” by platforms.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, chairing the judicial committee hearing, warned the CEO that new rules are needed to ensure that the decision to allow social media veterans to remove, filter or retain content is warned the CEO.
“Sounds like you are the ultimate editor,” Graham said when he made decisions targeting both platforms to limit distribution of a New York Post article including President-elect Joe Biden’s son to the Grudge. The campaign was reportedly denounced.
“When you have companies that have the power of governments (and) a lot more power than the traditional media, something has to give.”
Graham said the law is known as Section 230 which grants immunity for online services to content posted by others “must be changed”.
While flaunting the companies for inadequate action for political disinformation by presidential candidate Donald Trump, the megaphone for lying, Democratic Senator Richard Blumentel, also called for reform to Section 230.
“The president used this megaphone to spread vicious lies in a blatant attempt to overthrow the will of the voters,” Blumental said.
Blumenthal said social media companies “had more power than the former robbery barons of the Golden Age” and “is heavily publicized by surface mining data on our privacy and promotes discourse of hatred and the suppression of voters ”.
Republican Senator Mike Lee refuted what he said as “instances where your forums take a very specific partisan approach and the content related to the election is not neutral to moderation… some days before the election. ”
On the other hand, Blumental said that “Facebook has a history of maintaining housing and pushing for content policies”.
Democrat Diane Feinstein questioned the adequacy of Twitter’s labeling of unrealistic tweets as if Trump was claiming an election victory.
“Is this tweet sufficient to stop tweets when the tweet is still visible and inaccurate?” Asked the California senator.
230 Rule Dorsey and Zuckerberg said they were open to reform in Section 230, but cautioned that platforms should not be seen as “publishers” or traditional media.
“We have to be very careful and thoughtful about the changes… because going in one direction can lead to new competitors and new startups,” Dorsey said.
“Going to someone else can create a demand to handle the potential amount of resources. Yet another can be encouraged to stop expressing… I believe we (Section) 230 of Can Build. “
CEOs defended their efforts to curb harmful disinformation during election campaigns, defending films.
“We have stepped up our crackdown on militias, conspiratorial networks and other groups to prevent us from using our platform to organize violence or civil unrest in the post-election period,” Zuckerberg said.
He said Facebook made false statements about voting status and posted warnings on more than 150 million pieces of content reported by independent auditors.
The two CEOs said they would study the dissemination of election disinformation, allowing independent academics to conduct similar research.
Dorsey, meanwhile, said the Twitter filtering was not the result of bias, despite Conservatives’ claims to the contrary.
Dorsey testified that by filtering the content, “all decisions are made without using political perspectives, party affiliations or political ideology.”
“Our Twitter rules are not based on any particular set of ideologies or beliefs. We strongly believe in fairness and strive to apply our Twitter rules objectively. ”
Both platforms have started limiting access to many of Trump’s tweets, especially ones in which the president rejected his electoral defeat or questioned the integrity of the voting process.
Twitter and Facebook face pressure to suppress what many see as harmful disinformation during elections, while some are also fighting allegations of suppressing political opinions.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)