Washington (AP) – The CEOs of social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are expecting a new grill from Congress on Thursday, with one focusing on their efforts to spread fraud and incite violence.
This has been a familiar topic for lawmakers for the past few years. But the pressure is greater after the US Capitol Uprising on January 6, due to the rise of misinformation about COVID vaccines as a result of Democratic control of Congress by the White House. The latter can make legislative action more likely, although it is far from certain.
As malicious conspiracy theories continue to spread, lawmakers are cracking down on social media companies for dominating their market by collecting user data and practices that some say actually encourage the spread of attractive but potentially harmful misinformation. Some Republicans allege, without evidence, censorship – political bias against the Conservatives as another reason to restrain huge corporations.
There is growing support in Congress for new implications for legal protection of speech on their platforms. Both Republicans and Democrats, including President Biden as a candidate, are calling for some protections under section 230 of the so-called 25-year-old telecommunications bill, which protects Internet companies from user-imposed liability.
Facebook CEO Mark Uck Uckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Ecken Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who owns YouTube, will testify before the House Energy Committee. The title of the sitting does not question the position of the majority Democrats. “Misinformation nation. The role of social media in promoting extremism and misinformation. ”
These leaders testified on the subject at several hearings last year, sometimes under threat of subversion. This time they face a tougher dynamic և they can be held accountable for the promises made earlier. In a Senate hearing shortly after the November election, for example, Uck կերkerberg և Dorsey persuaded lawmakers to take active action against misinformation.
Until January, former President Donald Trump enjoyed special treatment on Facebook and Twitter, despite spreading misinformation, false allegations of vote rigging, and sowing hatred. Facebook banned Trump indefinitely a day after Trump angered riots in the Capitol area. This was soon followed by Twitter, permanently shutting down Trump’s favorite bull.
Banning the president from social networks was an unprecedented step. Of course, that was the case with Trump’s widespread use of Twitter to lobby opponents, praise supporters, and spread false claims to more than 80 million followers. He was only the second president to have a social media presence during his tenure.
Facebook has not yet decided whether it will permanently oust the former president. The company has handed over the decision to its almost independent Supervisory Board, a Facebook enforcement court that is expected to rule next month.
Republicans have stepped up their protests over alleged censorship and anti-conservative bias on social media. Researchers say there is no evidence that social media giants are biased towards conservative news, posts or other material, or that they prefer one side of the political debate to the other.
At the same time, Democrats are mainly focused on inciting hate speech, which can lead to violence in real life. An external report released this week shows that Facebook has allowed groups, many linked to QAnon, boogaloo և militant movements, to resort to violence in the run-up to the 2020 election և in the weeks leading up to the deadly riots on the Capitol.
Avaaz, a report by a nonprofit advocacy group that says it seeks to protect democracies from misinformation, has uncovered several hundred Facebook և groups that say they have distributed glorifying violence to a combined followers of 32 million users. Facebook acknowledged that its policies were “imperfect”, but said the report distorted its work against extremism and misinformation.
The technical executives plan to strictly defend the shield of responsibility under Section 230, saying it has helped turn the internet into a free expression forum that exists today. However, Berg Uckerberg will again urge Congress to update the law to ensure it works as intended. He adds a special offer. Congress can demand that Internet platforms receive legal protection only by proving that their systems for identifying illegal content are sufficient
“Instead of gaining immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place to identify and remove illegal content,” Uck Uckerberg said in a written statement prepared for Thursday’s hearing.
It is not clear that lawmakers will buy that argument. Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Widen has accused the Uck Uckerberg program of cracking down on giant companies at the expense of smaller competitors. “Anyone working on real-time online issues should be deeply wary of Mark Uckberg’s proposed new regulations,” Widen said in a statement.
Pichai և Dors was urged to exercise caution in any changes to Section 230. Regulations can protect the open web while preventing malicious use. But he warned that many reform proposals “would not serve the purpose well”, could inadvertently harm free expression, and limited the ability of platforms to protect users.
Dorsey did not address the issue in a written statement, but did answer recent questions about how Twitter should deal with global leaders violating its policies. “We are currently reviewing our approach to world leaders and seeking public feedback,” he said in a statement.