Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are back to testifying in a U.S. congressional hearing on Tuesday. And as has been the case with a lot of such previous hearings, this hearing too will be centered around Section 230 and the companies’ moderation practices. The points and arguments that were put forth during the hearing right before the U.S presidential elections, are likely to be brought up again and continued in Tuesday’s hearing.
The previous hearing took place in October, in which Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee. The hearing was called by the committee chairman Lindsey Graham, soon after Twitter and Facebook flagged or limited the reach of a New York Post article about Hunter Biden, the son of President-elect Joe Biden.
This time though, only Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey will appear before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. There will be no Sundar Pichai. Along with the issues raised previously, the CEOs are very likely to also be questioned about the recent developments and their role during the 2020 U.S presidential election.
Both Facebook and Twitter were actively flagging and taking down posts that they thought were violating their policies and rules. One of the notable occurrences on the platforms were President Donald Trump’s posts about the elections which were constantly being flagged for misinformation. After Joe Biden was declared President-elect, Trump’s twitter feed was filled with warning labels.
Both platforms appeared to enforce the rules more aggressively during the elections. This doesn’t really come as a surprise as the social media platforms have been accused of not doing enough to stop the spread of misinformation during the 2016 U.S presidential election. The active enforcement was the result of the companies trying not repeat the same mistake again.
Many Republican lawmakers and Donald Trump have accused the social media giants of enforcing selective censorship, as in, mostly censoring conservative or politically right-leaning posts and narratives.
Unhappy with how the social media companies carry out content moderation, they have threatened to repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The legislation provides the social media companies protection from being liable to and being tried for the content posted on their platforms by their users. Joe Biden, now President-elect, has also expressed support for the revocation of Article 230 in the past.
In the previous hearing, Both Zuckerberg and Dorsey expressed that they are open to change, but they have warned that the revocation of Article 230 is likely to negatively affect the way users communicate online and that it will lead to an increase in censorship. The idea of introducing necessary changes to the Act rather than a complete revocation has been favored by the CEO’s.
The upcoming hearing is expected to be highly political, as it comes soon after the presidential elections. A lot has transpired since then, such as Donald Trump challenging the election results and refusing to concede victory and the rise in posts questioning the validity of mail-in voting. The hearing on Tuesday will start at 10 AM ET (8:30 PM IST). Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey to appear via videoconference.