Facebook and Twitter defended their dealing with of US election misinformation at a heated congressional listening to Tuesday the place one key senator assailed the platforms for being the “ultimate editor” of political information.
The listening to, the second in lower than a month, got here with social media underneath hearth from each the left and the precise for his or her dealing with of political content material throughout a bitter US presidential marketing campaign.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified remotely to the session, which was referred to as to debate “censorship and suppression of news articles” and the “handling of the 2020 election” by the platforms.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, chairing the Judiciary Committee listening to, warned the CEOs that new laws are wanted to make sure the social media giants are held accountable for selections on eradicating, filtering or permitting content material to stay.
“It seems like you’re the ultimate editor,” Graham mentioned at the opening as he took intention at selections by each platforms to restrict the distribution of a New York Post article claiming to reveal malfeasance involving the son of President-elect Joe Biden through the marketing campaign.
“When you have companies that have the power of governments (and) have far more power than traditional media outlets, something has to give.”
Graham mentioned the regulation often known as Section 230 that offers immunity to on-line providers for content material posted by others “needs to be changed.”
Megaphone for falsehoods
Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal additionally referred to as for reform of Section 230 whereas rebuking the businesses for what he mentioned was insufficient motion towards political misinformation by President Donald Trump.
“The president has used this megaphone to spread vicious falsehoods in an apparent attempt to overturn the will of voters,” Blumenthal mentioned.
Blumenthal mentioned the social media corporations had “power far exceeding the robber barons of the last Gilded Age” and have “profited hugely by strip mining data about our private lives and promoting hate speech and voter suppression.”
Republican Senator Mike Lee in the meantime denounced what he referred to as “instances in which your platforms are taking a very distinctively partisan approach and not a neutral one to election related content moderation… just days before the election.”
From the opposite facet, Blumenthal mentioned that “Facebook, seems to have a record of making accommodations and caving to conservative pressure” on content material insurance policies.
Democrat Dianne Feinstein questioned the adequacy of Twitter’s labeling of unverified tweets similar to these of Trump claiming an election victory.
“Does that label do enough to prevent the tweets harms when the tweet is still visible and is not accurate?” the California senator requested.
Both Dorsey and Zuckerberg mentioned they have been open to reform on Section 230 however cautioned that the platforms shouldn’t be handled as “publishers” or conventional media.
“We do have to be very careful and thoughtful about changes.. because going one direction might box out new competitors and new startups,” Dorsey mentioned.
“Going another might create a demand for the possible amount of resources to handle it. Going yet another might encourage even more blocking of voices… I believe that we can build upon (Section) 230.”
Defending the filters
Both CEOs defended their efforts to curb dangerous misinformation through the election marketing campaign.
“We strengthened our enforcement against militias, conspiracy networks, and other groups to help prevent them from using our platform to organize violence or civil unrest in the period after the election,” Zuckerberg mentioned.
He mentioned Facebook eliminated false claims about polling circumstances and displayed warnings on greater than 150 million items of content material flagged by impartial fact-checkers.
Both CEOs mentioned they might examine the unfold of election misinformation whereas permitting impartial lecturers to hold out comparable analysis.
Dorsey in the meantime mentioned filtering at Twitter was not a results of bias, regardless of claims on the contrary by conservatives.
In filtering content material, “all decisions are made without using political viewpoints, party affiliation, or political ideology,” Dorsey mentioned in his testimony.
“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.”
Both platforms have begun limiting the attain of a lot of Trump’s tweets, notably these through which the president rejected his election defeat or questioned the integrity of the voting course of.
Twitter and Facebook have been dealing with strain to take away what many see as dangerous misinformation across the elections, whereas additionally preventing claims of suppression of sure political beliefs.
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