Alphabet, Facebook and Twitter Under US Senate ScrutinyBy Andrea Villar | Thu, 10/29/2020 - 08:00
On Wednesday, the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet attended a virtual Senate hearing over 1996’s internet legislation Section 230, which says internet companies cannot be held liable for the content their users post.
Republican Senator Roger Wicker pointed out that social media puts conservative content at a disadvantage affecting local media, which is why Section 230 should be changed. Social networks have so far avoided lawsuits for content posted on their platform and Section 230 has given them the ability to censor content that does not meet their standards, Wicker said. With less than a week to go before the US presidential election, President Donald Trump has accused the technology giants of provoking political bias.
In his testimony, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued that Section 230 provides them with tools to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and to protect public safety, but stressed the role of legislators in determining what content is acceptable. “Congress should update the law to make sure it is working as intended,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, warned the committee that undermining the foundations of Section 230 could significantly affect how people communicate online. Dorsey said he was willing to demand more transparency in the company's practices but stressed the burdens on the smaller technology companies that would imply the modification of the law. “Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report?” replied Republican Senator Ted Cruz, referring to the NY post that was disabled from sharing about Hunter Biden.
Sundar Pichai, Alphabet's CEO, stressed the company's willingness to adapt to new regulations but urged legislators to take into account the impact on business. “Let me be clear, we approach our work without political bias,” he noted. “To do otherwise would be contrary to both our business interests and our mission, which compels us to make information accessible to every type of person, no matter where they live or what they believe.”
“At the end of the day, we all share the same goal: free access to information for everyone and responsible protections for people and their data,” Pichai said. “We support legal frameworks that achieve these goals.”
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