Google, Facebook CEOs testifying before Congress on Section 230 on Thursday

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 24
The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will tell Congress about their war on misinformation Thursday, and two of the three will defend Section 230 protections in different ways..

Credit: WikiMedia Commons
Credit: WikiMedia Commons


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will all face Congress on Thursday to discuss misinformation about their platforms and the liability protections of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The testimony itself will be focused on the role of social media in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act shields online platforms from liability for content posted by users. Although it allowed the early internet to flourish, it has become a prominent target for reform in recent years. Both government agencies and lawmakers have introduced proposals to strip certain elements of Section 230.

Mark Zuckerberg - Facebook

In his written remarks, Zuckerberg will reflect on the prevalence of hateful content on Facebook and the ways the company combats misinformation -- both about the 2020 election and COVID-19. On Section 230, Zuckerberg will advise lawmakers on the best ways to reform the law. More specifically, he'll say legislators should focus on transparency and should consider making the liability shield available only to platforms with "adequate systems in place to address unlawful content."

"Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it," Zuckerberg wrote.

He goes on to say that a third party should determine the definition of an "adequate system," based on factors that are fair and clear for companies to understand. He says unrelated issues, like privacy and encryption, shouldn't be included in the best practices.

Sundar Pichai - Google

Unlike Zuckerberg, Google's Pichai doesn't advise lawmakers about how they should reform Section 230. Instead, Pichai only says he is "concerned" that recent proposals to strip or change the law could backfire and fail to achieve the goal of improving accountability for online platforms.

"In fact, [changes to Section 230] would have unintended consequences--harming both free expression and the ability of platforms to take responsible action to protect users in the face of constantly evolving challenges," Pichai said.

"We might better achieve our shared objectives by focusing on ensuring transparent, fair, and effective processes for addressing harmful content and behavior," he added.

Jack Dorsey - Twitter

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey did not comment on Section 230 in his written remarks. Instead, his testimony will focus on what he calls the "trust deficit" on tech platforms and the various ways that Twitter is working to combat misinformation.

Efforts to reform Section 230

Criticism of Section 230 heated up during the Trump Administration. Trump's FCC Head, Ajit Pai, took steps to interpret Section 230 in an effort to "clarify the meaning" of the law. The U.S. Justice Department also released a list of potential changes to Section 230 in 2020.

Calls to change the liability protections have continued under President Joe Biden, who has previously stated that he wants to revoke the law. Some of the recent attempts to reform Section 230 include the Safe Tech Act, a bill that could strip protections in situations when any sort of payment or monetization is involved.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 4
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 1,159member
    Section 230 has been weaponized by big tech to delete content that runs contrary to the beliefs of these billionaires and their cohorts. The Hunter Biden laptop story is Exhibit A. Deleting the former President’s comments and then ultimately banning him is another example. These companies have gone well beyond the original intent of Section 230, so I’m hoping that Congress takes action instead of just talking, talking, talking.
    edited March 24 macseeker
  • Reply 2 of 4
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 23,181member
    bluefire1 said:
    Section 230 has been weaponized by big tech to delete content that runs contrary to the beliefs of these billionaires and their cohorts. The Hunter Biden laptop story is Exhibit A. Deleting the former President’s comments and then ultimately banning him is another example. These companies have gone well beyond the original intent of Section 230, so I’m hoping that Congress takes action instead of just talking, talking, talking.
    The mention of "unintended consequences" should have gotten your attention. It wasn't just an idle comment.
  • Reply 3 of 4
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,265administrator
    bluefire1 said:
    Section 230 has been weaponized by big tech to delete content that runs contrary to the beliefs of these billionaires and their cohorts. The Hunter Biden laptop story is Exhibit A. Deleting the former President’s comments and then ultimately banning him is another example. These companies have gone well beyond the original intent of Section 230, so I’m hoping that Congress takes action instead of just talking, talking, talking.
    They have not. Discussion at the time made sure that the provisos applied to all companies, big and small. And, they do.

    The difference is, between now and then, the present elected officials don't like it as written. They won't agree on how to change it, so it will continue to be "talking, talking, talking."
    edited March 24 gatorguy
  • Reply 4 of 4
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 630member
    bluefire1 said:
    Section 230 has been weaponized by big tech to delete content that runs contrary to the beliefs of these billionaires and their cohorts. The Hunter Biden laptop story is Exhibit A. Deleting the former President’s comments and then ultimately banning him is another example. These companies have gone well beyond the original intent of Section 230, so I’m hoping that Congress takes action instead of just talking, talking, talking.
    You are wrong in so many ways.

    I read about the Hunter Biden laptop story in may places online (maybe even here?).

    Trump's accounts were removed/banned because he broke the terms of the agreement he agreed to when signing up for the online services.  It's that plain, and simple.  

    I'm not aware of "billionaires and their cohorts" being involved in either case.
    badmonk
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