Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs to testify in Congress over Section 230

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google parent Alphabet, have agreed to testify before Congress on October 28.
  • Twitter said in a tweet Friday that Dorsey had “voluntarily agreed to testify,” while calling for “reasoned and productive debate” over “reactionary and politicized attempts to erode #Section230.”
  • The Washington Post reporter Tony Romm earlier reported that Zuckerberg and Pichai had agreed to appear as well, while a Facebook spokesperson confirmed Zuckerberg’s appearance with Business Insider.
  • The Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is holding the hearing, where lawmakers will question the executives over Section 230, a legal protection for internet companies that has come under fire from both sides of the aisle.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The heads of Facebook, Google, and Twitter have all agreed to testify before Congress about social media regulation on October 28, just days before the US presidential election.

Twitter announced CEO Jack Dorsey’s appearance in a tweet Friday, while The Washington Post reporter Tony Romm tweeted Friday that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google parent company Alphabet, had agreed to testify as well. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed Zuckerberg’s appearance to Business Insider.

Their decisions to testify voluntarily avoids a subpoena process that lawmakers had voted on Thursday to invoke to compel them to appear. Sources told Romm that “subpoenas did not have to be sent.”

The Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is holding the hearing, where lawmakers plan to question the executives about concerns over Section 230, a legal provision that shields social media companies from being held liable for the content of users’ posts and gives them authority to develop their own content moderation rules.

Its advocates have called it “the most important law protecting internet speech,” but the law has increasingly come under fire from both sides of the political aisle — albeit for very different reasons.

Some Democrats want Section 230 to be amended to force social media companies to take a firmer stance to moderate hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. Some Republicans — including President Donald Trump — have alleged anti-conservative bias by big tech companies and want to curb Section 230’s protections to make them conditional on how tech companies moderate political speech.

Trump issued a controversial and legally dubious executive order targeting Section 230 this summer, explicitly airing grievances about decisions by Twitter and Facebook to apply fact-check and warning labels to his posts containing misinformation about mail-in voting and encouraging violence.

Republicans claim that incidents like Twitter and Facebook’s labels are evidence of anti-conservative bias. The tech companies have denied that political bias influences their decisions about how to moderate content, and data shows that conservative sites and pundits regularly generate content that garner the most interactions of any outlets online.

Twitter, in its tweets announcing Dorsey’s decision to testify, explicitly referenced these claims as well as Trump’s order, criticizing what it called “reactionary and politicized attempts to erode #Section230” and urging “reasoned and productive debate.”

“Alleged ‘political bias’ remains an unsubstantiated allegation that we have refuted on many occasions to Congress. It has also been widely disproven by independent research,” Twitter’s public policy team said.

Twitter said it was focused on “joint efforts to protect our shared democratic conversation from harm — from both foreign and domestic threats” and called for the hearing to be “constructive & focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections.”

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