WASHINGTON – Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief Jack Dorsey will appear before members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday morning to defend action for liberal speech by their companies. This is the second time in two months the two CEOs are testifying, but this will probably be more fireworks than their last appearance as their companies played a central role during the recent election.
They will probably face many questions about how their social networks handled vote-related posts, videos, and photos. Both companies stepped up labeling of election misinformation, including posts by President Trump, while false and misleading content increased.
Here’s what else to know:
When and where will it happen?
The hearing starts at 10 am. Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Dorsey will appear via videoconferencing. They will ask questions from the 22 members of the committee, some of whom will be in the committee’s meeting room in the Capitol, and others who will also be present through videoconferencing.
What will be discussed?
The committee chairman of South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, called the hearing in October after Twitter and Facebook called or information led to President-elect Joseph R. Labeled or limited access to a New York Post article about Biden Jr.’s son, Hunter Biden. This was leaked and misleading.
Executives, who have each appeared several times before Congress in recent years about data privacy, disruption in the 2016 elections, and content moderation, will likely get many repeat questions that their companies have done to protect consumers. How to try and moderate content without speech. But he will also face new questions, including whether the continued ban on political ads could jeopardize Senate runoff in Georgia and why disgusting content is still allowed on his sites.
President Trump and his Republican colleagues have stressed action by Twitter and Facebook for repeatedly labeling and hiding presidential posts for violating policies against spreading inaccurate and misleading information about the election. Twitter was particularly active in labeling Mr. Trump’s tweets on election day and the days following. Members such as Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri are expected to blast Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg for what they describe as censorship of conservatives they claim has not been established.
Democrats are expected to direct their anger toward Facebook for acting only during the election, to mark Mr. Trump’s misinformation about voter fraud and false claims of victory. Democrats say that Facebook and Twitter have become too lax on discrimination and vulgar language, prompting celebrities such as Steve Bannon to recently become Dr. Condemned Anthony Fauci allowed to maintain his Facebook account. They will also point to an increase in anti-Muslim content on Facebook and an increase in hate content on social media.
What else can we learn?
The hearing could generate new insights into Washington’s postwar temperatures and provide clues for a legislative agenda next year that is expected to include new restrictions in the power of tech companies. Republicans and Democrats have called for reform of a 1996 law called Section 230 of the Communications Decisions Act, which provides legal immunity to online platforms for third-party content.
Other issues may include competition and data privacy. Several members of the committee have expressed concern about the concentration of power among tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, and some have called for reforms to have conflicting laws. For example, Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has proposed changes to update competition laws to better address the tech sector.