Google, Facebook, and Twitter chief executives appeared before the congress hearing on their optimization policies on Wednesday. The meeting of the Senate Commerce Committee was arranged to address the content control processes of media, yet nationalism and extremism have also been debated.
As part of the broader analysis of the decades-old federal laws known as Section 230 that prohibit social media outlets in being made accountable for the messages, images, and videos they permit or delete, Congress summoned the top executives of the three big tech companies to speak. Numerous members of Congress have gradually come to see the laws as outdated. On Wednesday, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg even said that he agrees too that updating the law is essential.
But instead, the hearing rendered Facebook, Google, and Twitter confronting opposing tensions - from Democrats who believe they must further actively monitor their apps and services, and Republicans who thought that like a most political speech, corporations ought to have a relatively hands-off involvement.
"Democrats often say that we don't remove enough content, and Republicans often say we remove too much," Zuckerberg had said in his opening statement. "The fact that both sides criticize us doesn't mean that we're getting this right, but it does mean there are real disagreements about where the limits of online speech should be."
Facebook says that the site is now ready for the upcoming election this year, in the light of the platform being used for political manipulation in the 2016 US Elections.
Republicans accuse the CEOs of selective censorship
Republicans on the panel raised concerns that measures on how to regulate content were done by Facebook, Google, and Twitter in such that they were biased towards conservatives, referring to the rising interest that the issue has drawn from the party.
They mentioned instances in which conservative politicians or media sources on the three services had seen their material limited or removed. Congress has not presented proof that systemic prejudice occurred across the said services.
Moreover, Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chair of the Commerce Committee, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner also challenged Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, regarding cases in which Twitter had branded the tweets of President Trump and had not yet done the same with the authoritarian public officials.
Democrats focus on misinformation
In their interrogation of the tech chief executives on Wednesday, Democrats took a somewhat separate approach than Republicans, scolding them regarding their attempts to limit the spread of misinformation as well as extremism.
A Democrat from Minnesota, Senator Amy Klobuchar, had this to say: "I want to know first why this hearing comes six days before Election Day, and it - I believe we are politicizing and the Republican majority is politicizing what should actually not be a partisan topic."
Democrats have been increasingly open to amendments of Section 230 of the Internet corporate legal shield, which safeguards companies from users' responsibility for posts. Conversely, their grievances were aimed at inadequate intervention against disinformation, which disrupts the election by the tech platforms.
The Democrats have also suspected Republicans of conducting the congress hearing for President Trump's benefits. Recently, the Trump administration is set to file a lawsuit on Google last October 20, in what is perceived to be the most major antitrust lawsuit against a technology firm in more than 20 years.
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