Republicans accused Facebook and Twitter of meddling in the elections to harm President Donald Trump by censoring conservatives with warnings on GOP tweets about mail-in votes.
Democrats criticized corporations for failing to curb Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election and the rise of hate speech and white nationalism, and targeted their GOP counterparts to put on a “political sideshow” about two of the leading tech -Beat CEOs of the country.
Legislature’s bipartisan barbecuing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday – Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey ‘s second virtual appearance in less than three weeks – reflected growing and collective anger over “big tech”.
Panel Chairman, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, opened the hearing with a call for reform of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The committee is working on a bill from Graham and Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Titled EARN IT Act, which would remove some of the decades-long legal protections protecting technology companies from liability for what users post on their platforms.
“I don’t want the government to take on the job of telling America which tweets are legitimate and which are not,” Graham said in his opening speeches. “But when you have companies that have government power, that have far more power than traditional media, something has to give.”
“Techlashing” on Capitol Hill:Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey prepare for the Senate Judiciary Hearing
Why Facebook Throttled NY Post Articles:According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook throttled Hunter Biden’s article after the FBI warned him about “hack and leak” operations
Graham made a particular exception to Facebook and Twitter’s decision to curb the distribution of a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s pre-election business dealings.
“You are the ultimate editor,” he said.
Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, also questioned the way Facebook and Twitter police content.
“There are cases in which your platforms have a very strong and not a neutral partisan approach to moderating election content,” he said.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey defended the use of labels to review posts about the elections, arguing that their guidelines were fair, even though their platforms made some enforcement errors.
“We’re facing something that feels impossible,” said Dorsey. “We need to help improve the health of public conversation while ensuring that as many people as possible can participate.”
Both CEOs expressed their willingness to work with lawmakers to reform Section 230.
“We are overdue,” said Zuckerberg in his opening speech. “We would benefit from clearer guidance from elected officials.”
The broadsides from the left also intensified during Tuesday’s hearing. Blumenthal threatened to split Facebook by peeling off Instagram and WhatsApp.
“They have built terrifying tools of persuasion and manipulation, the power of which goes far beyond the robber barons of the last gilded age,” said Blumenthal. “You made a lot of money mining data on our personal lives and promoting hate speech and voter suppression.”
He also accused Facebook of giving in to Conservative pressure to back down the enforcement of dangerous misinformation and tactics to repress voters ahead of Georgia’s January two runoff elections that determine who controls the Senate. Zuckerberg and Dorsey promised to take tough action for the two special elections in Georgia.
Trump continues to stand up for unsubstantiated claims of election fraud and deny Joe Biden’s victory on social media. Graham and other Republican lawmakers support the president even when federal and state officials declare the election the safest in US history.
Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, urged Facebook and Twitter to create data showing whether they are flagging or censoring Republicans disproportionately. Researchers have found no evidence of systematic suppression of conservative voices or points of view. The companies do not dispute politically motivated censorship.
The GOP majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee threatened Dorsey and Zuckerberg with summons if they did not voluntarily show up for the Tuesday hearing. It was originally billed as an indictment of corporations’ handling of the New York Post item, but was more focused on how the elections were handled.
This is a developing story.