The hearings held by the U.S. Senate aimed at reforming Internet laws and holding technology companies accountable for the management of their content. This quickly turned into a political melee, as lawmakers not only followed the company but also attacked each other.
Legislators are divided on the way in which big technologies are required to assume responsibility under Article 230 of the Communications Law, which protects companies from responsibility for content posted by users, but also allows companies to shape political speech.
Republican lawmakers spent most of the hearings accusing the company of selective review of conservatives. Democrats have focused mainly on insufficient action against misinformation that interferes with the election.
In answering limited questions about the law, the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet’s Google said that free expression on the Internet is essential. They say that section 230 provides them with a tool to strike a balance between maintaining freedom of speech and moderating content, even if they seem to be open to suggestions that the law needs moderate changes.
All three CEOs agreed that if the platform acts as an issuer, the two companies should be held accountable, but the refusal to serve as a referee due to political speeches angered some Republicans.
Senator Ted Cruz said after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that Twitter has no influence on the election.
Cruz said: “Who chose you in the end, you are responsible for what you allow the media to report and what you allow Americans to listen to.” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Before the hearing, the senator posted a picture on Twitter titled “Free Speech Showdown Cruz vs Dorsey”, showing him and Twitter’s Dorsey confronting each other.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said he had no problems, calling the hearing “nonsense.” He said: “This is coercion, for election purposes.”
Other Democrats, including Tammy Baldwin, Ed Mackey and Amy Klobuchar, also said that the hearing was held to help President Donald Trump re-elect.
Trump, who accused the company of stifling conservative voices, tweeted “Repeal Article 230!”. During the hearing.
Twitter’s Dorsey has received the most criticism from the Republican Party. He warned the committee that erosion of the foundation of Section 230 could severely damage the way people communicate online. Pichai said that Google’s operations are not politically biased, otherwise doing so will harm its commercial interests.
Zuckerberg briefly had difficulties with his Internet connection at the beginning of the hearing. He said that he supported changing the law, but also warned that if Article 230 is repealed, technology platforms may conduct more scrutiny to avoid legal risks . Biden has expressed his support for repealing the law.
No more “free passes”
Republican Senator Roger Wicker, who chaired the committee, said that it is important to protect the company from liability without giving the company the ability to review its dissatisfaction.
He said: “Now is the time to end the free pass.”
Wicker also criticized Twitter’s decision to block the New York Post’s story about Biden’s son and Facebook’s move to limit its influence.
He and other senators, such as Cory Gardner (Cory Gardner), are catching up on Twitter because he did not delete the tweets of world leaders who allegedly spread misinformation, but on Republican President Donald T. Rampu’s tweet was actively followed.
American lawmakers are not alone in pushing reforms. The European Commission is drafting a new “Digital Services Act”, which in addition to addressing the market abuse of mainstream platforms, will also address the responsibility for harmful or illegal content. Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager will announce her proposal on December 2.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
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