‘Dangerous’ Twitter and Facebook accused of SILENCING Republican voices by Ted Cruz in 'censorship' grilling11/17/2020
"DANGEROUS" Twitter and Facebook were accused of silencing Republican voices by Ted Cruz in the Senate's "censorship" grilling.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing kicked off on Tuesday morning and saw senators question the social media moguls about their practices.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey were both asked by Republican Senator Lindsay if they had watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix.
The docudrama features tech experts who warn against against the perils of social media and data mining.
Zuckerberg said he was "familiar with it" while Dorsey admitted that "no, I have not."
"I would encourage both of you to see it," Lindsay told them during the tense exchange, which is still going on as of 12.20pm ET.
Senator Richard Blumenthal also highlighted that Trump's former aide Steve Bannon had called for the beheading of Dr Anthony Fauci in a video.
Blumenthal asked Zuckerberg if he told employees that Bannon had not violated enough policies to be banned.
"The content in question did violate our policies and we took it down," Zuckerberg said, saying it varied on the type of offense.
"For other things, it's multiple," he continued, adding that he wouldn't commit to taking down Bannon's account, however.
Blumenthal told Zuckerberg was concerned that Facebook seemed to have a record of "caving" to conservative pressure and claimed Trump "exert[ed] pressure on you and others in this industry."
Earlier, Graham had told Zuckerberg and Dorsey that he felt large social media companies should be subject to "judgements about their judgements."
Sen Richard Blumenthal vowed to bring "aggressive reform" to Section 230 but cautioned against being members of the "speech police."
"Harms have been caused by big tech because you have failed in your responsibility as have others in this industry," he said. "Your platforms have … weaponized white supremacists.
"You have set back consumers in competitions making that kind of anti-trust action very important," he added. "I look forward to an opportunity of real change."
Dorsey addressed the committee and acknowledged that Twitter was there for blocking users from sharing a New York Post article.
"We admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours," he said, explaining that the organization thought the contents of Hunter Bidens laptop were obtained through hacking.
"We acknowledge there are still concerns around how we moderate content," he continued, before discussing the election.
Dorsey said they incorporated product changes and updated their policy to prevent posts which would confuse people about voting.
He said they flagged over 300,000 tweets from late October until November 11.
Zuckerberg then had the floor, citing Facebooks efforts to protect the 2020 election and said the company helped around 4.5 million people register to vote.
He said he and his wife Priscilla donated $400 million dollars to help election workers around the country.
"I'm proud of the work we've done," Zuckerberg said during his address.
Graham asked Dorsey how he felt about his and Blumenthal's statement and the Twitter exec replied that it seemed like they were "facing something that feel impossible."
Zuckerberg said he heard that there were issues around content and updating rules of the internet.
"There may be now enough common ground on views that real progress can be made here," Facebook's boss said.
Dorsey said that he didn't agree with the government setting a regularity scheme online, while Zuckerberg said perhaps, if it was something like terrorism.
"Should we leave it up to the industry … to moderate content?" Graham asked, which is when Dorsey brought up the issue of algorithms.
Zuckerberg agreed there was a role for regulation in the process, such as regulation for transparency.
He said Facebook releases a transparency report flagging violating content like terrorism to child exploitation and said a policy team sets their standards.
Zuckerberg claimed they didn't design their product to be addictive when Graham cited growing evidence that social media was addictive.
"We don't want our products to be addictive – we want people to use them because they're meaningful," Zuckerberg said, claiming they don't intend to make the newsfeed addictive.
Graham asked both bosses if they had watched the documentary The Social Dilemma and Dorsey said "no."
Zuckerberg and Dorsey said they did agree with making changes to the country's internet legislation, Section 230.
Blumenthal said there was content aimed at de-legitimizing the election in January and asked that they be entered into the record.
He said he wanted to know within a week what additional steps they were taking to stop the spread of disinformation ahead of the Georgia runoff.
He also asked the businessman if Facebook used the Onavo Protect data to mine people's WhatsApp data.
GOP Senator John Cornyn III said he was concerned that big tech could regulate online speech.
He quizzed Dorsey about the Hunter Biden "Ukraine, sex, and crack" scandal, and he explained that it was a "mistake" to disallow people from sharing it.
He said initially, they thought it was in violation of their terms of service regarding hacked materials.
When Senator Feinstein asked how long it took for misinformation about voting or the election to be flagged, Dorsey said anywhere from five to 30 minutes.
More to follow…
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