Senators Once Again Berate Twitter and Facebook CEOs for Content Decisions They Dislike
On Tuesday morning, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey once again appeared before Congress to answer questions about their companies’ content moderation decisions. This time, the public grilling was premised on how the two social media giants handled information related to the 2020 election. But like previous forays into probing the business practices of Facebook and Twitter, this one—which is still ongoing as I write this—quickly turned into a bipartisan grievance fest that had little to do with realistic regulation of online speech or U.S. tech companies (or current American law).
Instead, Senate Democrats and Republicans spent the first few hours of the hearing pummeling the tech CEOs with a litany of partisan grievances and culture war talking points related to election content.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) blasted Twitter and Facebook for trying to keep users engaged in a way that could possibly “create a health hazard over time” and suggested they had “editorial control over the New York Post” because “they decided—maybe for a good reason, I don’t know—that the New York Post articles about Hunter Biden needed to be flagged, excluded from distribution, or made hard to find.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R–Utah) grilled Zuckerberg over Facebook’s political donations and the decision to ban two ads, deemed by Facebook third-party fact-checkers to be “partly false information,” concerning the Biden/Harris presidential ticket and abortion. He grilled Dorsey over temporarily suspending the account of a government official.
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) suggested Twitter’s handling of Trump’s election fraud tweets—on which it has affixed labels contesting certain claims and linking to more information—was not a strong enough effort to stop the spread of misinformation.
Enough @SenFeinstein with pretending that any company is in charge of protecting the country from others’ bad speech.
No one does. We can encourage platforms to take steps but raking them over the coals because they didn’t do the impossible is a misuse of your power. #Section230
— Cathy Gellis (@CathyGellis) November 17, 2020
Once again, Republican lawmakers called for fewer limits on content—or at least, certain kinds of it—while Democrats called for more curation. There’s no way Facebook and Twitter can app
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