WASHINGTON – MPs on Thursday lauded the leaders of Facebook, Google and Twitter over the relationship between online discharge and 6 January Riot in the Capitol, As Twitter’s chief executive for the first time to publicly acknowledge that his product had played a part in the events in which five people died.
When a Democratic lawmaker asked officials to respond with “yes” or “no,” whether the platform had taken some responsibility for misinformation that contributed to the riots, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey said, “Yes. ” Neither Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg nor Google’s Sundar Pichai would directly answer the question.
In the nearly five-hour hearing before the House Committee, for the first time MPs directly questioned the CEOs about the role of social media In the riots of january. Tech owners were also exposed to the question of how their companies helped spread lies around Kovid-19 vaccines, enabling racism and hurting children’s mental health.
It was also the first time officials had testified after the inauguration of President Biden. Tough inquiries from lawmakers indicated that Silicon Valley’s business practices would not be investigated, and could even lead both Democrats in the White House and in congressional chambers.
Chief executives have become Capitol Hill regulars in recent years. Mr. Zuckerberg has testified seven times since 2018. Mr. Dorsey has testified five times and Mr. Pichai four times. But these hearings, disinfection, antitrust and data privacy, have not happened because of regulations. Although there is bipartisan hostility towards companies, there is little consensus on how to capture Internet giants in particular. Over the years, dozens of privacy, speech and anti-people bills have gone nowhere.
“It would be very challenging to translate these concerns into law,” said Alexandra Givens, chief executive officer of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a tech think tank.
At the end of the hearing there was the question of whether companies had a financial incentive to keep users engaged – and clicking on advertisements – by feeding them divisive, extreme and hateful content. MPs from both parties said that Congress should reconsider a law that would shield platforms from lawsuits over content posted by its users.
The New Jersey Democrat, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that you are not representative bypassers. “You are making money.”
Lawmakers, who compared the business practices of social media companies to tobacco and alcohol companies, were at times disappointed that what they said was the imprudence of the authorities.
Representative Mike Doyle, a Pennsylvania Democrat representative, asked technical chief executives to answer yes or no: Did their platforms contribute to spreading misinformation before the riots?
Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Pichai deferred the question. Mr. Dorsey was more direct.
“Yes,” he said. “But you also have to focus on the wider ecosystem. It is not about the technology platforms we use. “
Mr. Doyle pressed other officers.
“How is it possible that you don’t at least acknowledge that Facebook has played a leading role in facilitating the recruitment, planning and execution of an attack on the Capitol?” He asked Mr. Zuckerberg.
“I think the responsibility here lies with those who took action to break the law and revolt,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. He said that spreading misinformation is also the responsibility of the people.
“But your platforms supercharged,” Mr. Doyle said.
Later, still attending the videoconference hearing, Mr. Dorsey Tweeted a single question mark With a poll that had two options: “yes” or “no.” When an MP was asked about his tweet, he said “yes” was winning.
The January riots in the Capitol have made the issue of dissolution personal for lawmakers. President Donald J. The riot was sparked by false claims by Trump and others that the elections were stolen, which pervaded social media.
Some participants were concerned with QAnon and other online conspiracy theories. And prosecutors have said that the groups involved in the riots, including Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, coordinated some of their actions on social media.
Lawmakers have criticized the platform for the way it has been able to spread misinformation about the coronavirus epidemic and the Kovid-19 vaccine. Representative Anna Eshu of California Democrats, which represents part of Silicon Valley, told Mr. Dorsey that Twitter should “eliminate all Kovid’s misinformation – and not label or reduce its spread, but remove it.” . “
Republicans specifically criticized the companies for the promotion of toxic materials that harm children. Rep. Kathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington, said social media was her “biggest fear” as a parent. “I have seen where your algorithms take them. It is frightening. I know that I am not alone, ”said Ms. Rodgers.
Republican members also focused on social media platform decisions Ban on Mr. Trump and his allies After the January 6 riots. Sanctions by conservatives gave the stern view that companies were left-leaning and tended to suppress conservative voices.
“We are all aware of big-tech censorship of conservative voices and their commitment to the radical progressive agenda,” said Rep. Bob Latta of Ohio, a ranking Republican on the panel’s technology subcommittee.
Company leaders defended their businesses, saying they had invested heavily in hiring content moderators and technology such as artificial intelligence, which was used to identify and fight disinfection.
Mr. Zuckerberg argued against the notion that his company was given a financial incentive to attract their attention by driving the attention of its users toward more extreme content. He added that Facebook “designed the algorithm to not only tweak and optimize and get people to spend every last minute on our service.”
He said later in the hearing that in elections, decriminalization was spread across messaging apps, where amplification and algorithms do not aid the dissemination of false content. He also blamed television and other traditional media for spreading electoral lies.
Companies showed their views about regulations. Facebook has strongly supported Internet regulations in a major advertising blitz on television and in newspapers. At the hearing, Mr. Zuckerberg suggested specific regulatory reform for an important legal shield, known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has helped Facebook and other Silicon Valley Internet giants flourish.
The legal shield protects companies that host and moderate third-party content, and states that companies such as Google and Twitter are only intermediaries of their user-generated content. Democrats have argued that with that protection, companies are not motivated to remove disinfection. Republicans accuse the companies of using the shield too much for liberals and taking material that does not represent their political outlook.
“I believe that Section 230 would benefit from doing a better job for the people,” Zuckerberg said in the statement.
He proposed that liability protection for companies is conditional on their ability to fight the spread of certain types of illegal content. He said that platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place to identify and remove illegal content. The reform, he said, should be different for smaller social networks that would not have the same resources as Facebook to meet the new requirements.
Mr Pichai and Mr Dorsey said they supported the requirements for transparency in content moderation but fell short of agreeing with Mr Zuckerberg’s other views. Mr Dorsey said it would be very difficult to separate a large platform from a small one.
Lawmakers did not win.
“There’s a lot of smog among you,” said Representative Johnson, a Republican from Ohio. “There is this air of untouchable-ness in answering the many difficult questions you are asking.”
Kate conger And Daisuke Waqbayashi Contributed to reporting.