Video source: Reuters YouTube channel
Nandita Boz and Diana Bartz
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican senators on Tuesday attacked Facebook and Twitter executives for calling censorship of President Trump and his allies during the U.S. election, while Democrats complained about the spread of misinformation on social media.
The CEOs, Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, defended their practice of moderating content at congressional hearings scheduled after platforms decided to block New York Post claims against the son of then-Democratic Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The move has sparked outrage among Republican lawmakers, who have constantly accused companies of anti-conservative bias.
In his opening remarks, Judicial Committee Chair Lindsey Graham asked, “I want to find out if you’re not a newspaper on Twitter TWTR.N or Facebook FB.O, why do you have editorial control over the New York Post?”
He said he did not think articles about Hunter Biden refuted by Biden’s campaign should be marked or excluded from distribution.
Democrats focused on spreading misinformation to Trump, Republicans, and his supporters. They have pushed campaigns to limit the spread of fake and deceptive content ahead of Georgia’s election, where two incumbent Republican senators, David Purdue and Kelly Loefler, face second rounds against well-funded Democratic opponents – a contest likely to determine which the party controls the Senate.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey admitted that the companies made some mistakes, but mostly defended their policies.
However, broader problems with decisions to moderate their content, especially around violent speeches, became apparent when Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, asked Zuckerberg on Facebook if he would commit to removing the account of former Trump adviser to Steve Bannon’s White House after he offered to behead. two high-ranking U.S. officials.
Zuckerberg refused. “Senator, no. This is not what our policy suggests we should do in this case, ”he said.
Last week, Reuters reported that Zuckerberg said at a meeting of all employees that Bannon had violated Facebook’s policy insufficiently to justify his rejection.
Blumenthal also noted that Google from Alphabet Inc, which owns YouTube, received a “pass” at the hearing, saying the company is being rewarded for its “timidity” in moderating content.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey also asked some clear questions about whether they act as publishers, to which the CEOs stated that this was not the case.
Video source: Reuters YouTube channel
Frustrated by the companies ’decision on what to leave on the platform and what to remove, many Republican lawmakers and Trump have threatened to strip Internet companies under a federal law called Section 230 of the Decency in Communication Act. The law protects companies from the courts for publishing user materials on their platforms.
Graham also said he hopes section 230 will be changed.
“If you have companies that have government powers, have much more power than traditional media, you need to give something,” he said. President-elect Biden also said he was in favor of repealing Chapter 230. Democrats in Congress, however, prefer a more thoughtful approach to reforming legislation.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey said they would be open to some legislative reforms.
At a hearing in October, Dorsey of Twitter said that the erosion of Chapter 230 could significantly hurt the way people communicate online. Zuckerberg said he supports changing the law, but also said technology platforms are likely to censor more to avoid legal risks if the law is repealed.
Report by Nandita Bose, Diane Bartz and David Shepardson in Washington and Elizabeth Calliford in Birmingham and Katie Paul in San Francisco; Edited by Grant McCool and Dan Grabler
Share price data is provided by IEX Cloud with a 15-minute delay. Chart cost data is provided by TradingView with a 15-minute delay.
This article is first published on Source link