U.S. Senate committee grills Twitter, Google, Facebook CEOs in censorship hearing

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Wednesday defended Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act during a hearing on censorship before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Section 230 grants liability protections to online platforms that allow third-party users to publish content – like tweets, Facebook posts, and visitors’ comments – on their websites; this law separates social media sites from digital publishers.

Audrey Conklin for FOXBusiness:

Dorsey suggested expanding Section 230 rather than removing it altogether. “Section 230 is the most important law protecting internet speech. In removing Section 230, we will remove speech from the internet,” Dorsey said during his testimony.

He went on to offer three possible “solutions” to Section 230 including a required service moderation process, a “straightforward” process for users to appeal human moderator decisions to edit or remove content and potentially giving users the opportunity to turn off a website’s algorithm… Zuckerberg similarly suggested that Congress “update the law to make sure it is working as intended.”

Platforms maintain the right as private companies to censor user content in an effort to protect the safety of its users. The president, as well as some members of Congress and other tech experts, say that censorship has gone too far, especially ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Both President Trump and Joe Biden have expressed interest in revoking Section 230, but tech experts argue that the law is necessary for a free and open Internet.

The hearing comes two weeks after Twitter and Facebook decided to reduce the distribution of – or outright block, in Twitter’s case – the New York Post story questioning Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings while his father was vice president just weeks before the 2020 election. The story included 2015 emails recovered from a laptop that purportedly belonged to Hunter Biden.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, hit Dorsey with questions regarding Twitter and its Hacked Materials Policy, which Twitter has since updated so that it will no longer remove content that violates the rule but rather add a label that provides additional context. The Texas senator pointed out that The Post is still locked out of its account despite the policy change.

“They have to log onto their account, delete the original tweet, which fell under our original enforcement actions, and they can tweet the exact same material to the exact same article, and it will go through,” Dorsey said.

MacDailyNews Take: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Three mealy-mouthed weasels.

Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it. ― Mark Twain

45 Comments

  1. Nice hat, Jack. Grow up. Stop censoring conservative viewpoints.

    “Where there is official censorship it is a sign that speech is serious.” – Paul Goodman

    (And I freely quote “the philosopher of the New Left” to further drive home my point.)

    1. Agreed!

      Please repeal Section 230 the law is antiquated and written around near birth of the internet 24 years ago before the internet exploded largely credited to the iPhone and tablets. Back then tech companies as well as the mainstream media played on a fairly level playing field, but certainly not now.

      Today a handful of companies control the majority of worldwide information and have clearly and indirectly banded together with the same philosophy to censor conservative voices. Yes, they are a private company but the major difference lost on most people is Section 230 protects them from lawsuits afforded no other private company.

      Hence the abuse, left leaning bias and censorship of certain groups they do not support without fear of legal repercussions. They are filibustering to keep the same bad law in place fearing the responsibility, loss of revenue and lawsuits they so enjoyed immunity for decades. Whether you are a Democrat or Republican this is simply wrong and must be corrected.

          1. I think Zuckerberg’s barber needs to be brought up on charges…or at least arraigned.

            Mark, you have billions of dollars, so you can afford consultants, aestheticians/designers on the level that once served the Kings and Pharaohs of Babylon and Egypt. As well, this someone could possess the highest level of scissor hand-eye coordination ever born on earth. May I suggest, make an appointment with such a person(s) before the next hearing?

            Please pass on the names to Jack, when you find such expert. He could use a little trim…ZZ Top has claimed that trademark look.

      1. Yep, Truth Can Hurt….Time to wake up, or be honest. Anecdotally, in all my years, I’ve never seen/noticed as many people with Liberal views halting connections with people with differing views. Btw, here’s a legal factor being discussed per FB, Twtr, Ggl.

        Stats seem to show, liberals want to play in the sandbox, only if it suits their views. These stats imply liberals “cover their eyes/ears,” so their experience becomes a comfy echo chamber.

        “People with left-wing/liberal views are more likely to block or unfriend their ideological counterparts than those with right-wing/conservative views.”

        Who’s the real crybaby?

      2. At least we can count on you to support dementia in Presidential candidates, the complete burning and looting of all cities where Democrats live, the mass murder of black babies, and unlimited wealth for crackhead politicians sons.

  2. “I’m a Christian straight, white, male VICTIM!!” is the theme song for the entire Trump movement (bowel movement). What a waste of time and taxpayer $. If you don’t like it then create your own social media platforms. Better yet, go offline completely. The entire planet will instantly benefit from your absence.

    1. TruthHurst…that’s so clever that way to connected Trump movement with (BM). Too bad you weren’t able to put “Orange Man” in there somewhere. That would have been real neat.

  3. Without Section 230, MacDailyNews could be sued over user posts and comments that anybody regarded as defamatory. Perhaps a Trump supporter might object to being called a sexist xenophobic fascist. Perhaps a Biden supporter might object to being called an atheistic and demented supporter of pedophilia. Perhaps an Android or Windows user might object to being called a mentally challenged thief. Perhaps an iPhone user might object to being called a supporter of the Chinese Communist Party and the homosexual agenda. Again, Section 230 is all that keeps any of these offended parties from suing MDN for publishing the allegedly defamatory comments.

    Even if the suit was ultimately dismissed, the site would be out the time and trouble of defending the suit and probably the legal expense. Every time we access this site, we are confronted with a message that it is teetering on the edge of financial collapse. Just the threat of liability might convince the owners to pull the plug. The expense of a few lawsuits might leave them no choice.

    Now, multiply MDN’s situation by several orders of magnitude. There are no more than a couple of hundred comments here on a very busy day. The number of Tweets, Facebook posts, and the like must measure in the millions every day. The number of Google search results can go into the millions for each individual search of millions every day. Without Section 230, Twitter would have liability for every Tweet, Facebook for every post, and Google for all the material in its search results. They would have to shut down, and nobody else (except possibly a national government) could afford to replace them.

    The result would not be a more free public discussion on social media, but no discussion at all. The suppression of public discourse by government action is precisely what the Framers feared.

    1. Do you have any workable solution(s) for stopping Twitter, Google, and Facebook from stifling viewpoints that don’t jive with those of nose ring-wearing San Fran hipsters who are totally removed from wallowing in Democrat-sanctioned sidewalk defecate and used heroin needles like average citizens?

      1. Don’t use liberal social media. Use (or create) conservative alternatives that will have the same constitutionally-protected right not to publish material with which they disagree.

        1. That’s very easy to say when all three have the benefits of the network effect, de facto monopolies in their purviews, and no competitor is allowed to get a toehold.

          So, again, do you have any workable solution(s) for stopping Twitter, Google, and Facebook from stifling viewpoints they don’t like, for whatever reasons they invent and can change on a whim?

          1. I offered a solution. It isn’t my fault that these companies put in the time and effort to rise to the top of a free market over inferior (or at least less popular) competitors. That is how capitalism works. Anybody who doesn’t like the mousetraps currently on the market can invent a better one and the world will beat a path to their door.

            You and I can remember when other companies had a dominant position in the search and social media markets, from which they were displaced because Google and Facebook moved from a tiny share to market dominance. The current incumbents could also be displaced by a superior alternative.

            You don’t like my solution. That’s fine. I dislike your implied solutions, which are either to expropriate the fruits of these companies’ hard work and hand them over to someone else, or to impose constitutionally-prohibited government content requirements on them. I find both approaches more appropriate for a socialist state like Venezuela than to a constitutional republic like the United States.

        2. why do the people who want the government to force Christian hospitals to perform abortions make asinine argument like this dickwad TxUser? TX – why don’t you leave Christian hospitals alone and get your abortions in your home office? Or better yet, learn to use contraception.

          1. I have no problem with hospitals applying their own policies if, and only if, they are doing it with their own money. If they are using government money, those expenditures are subject to the same conditions as any other government action.

            Also, they are subject to laws of general applicability like everybody else. For example, the Civil Rights Acts that implement the 14th Amendment prohibit discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

            There is no constitutional basis for limiting the speech of private companies just because somebody does not agree with them

            1. I would guess about the same thing as if Temple Beth-El refused to rent its meeting rooms to a Neo-Nazi group. Private parties cannot be required to promote a message that they find odious.

            1. No, I was saying that a conservative who is offended by liberal media is free not to use them. He called Facebook, Twitter, and Google liberal, not me. They are quite obviously not regarded as offensively liberal by most consumers, or they would not be market-dominant.

              Whether they are liberal, or not, does not matter because private parties—unlike government entities—are free to be biased. That applies equally to Fox News, MSNBC, MDM, and Facebook. I am not offended by any of them, since I respect their right to their own viewpoint. I only draw the line at lying about matters of easily verified fact. Hence there is nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about my suggestion.

    2. No, they wouldn’t. Not if they are only censoring “obscene material”. Section 230’s aim was to make companies hosting public forums like the telephone company. You certainly wouldn’t expect to be having a phone conversation and suddenly have an operator interrupt and say “You’re not allow to say that on our network.” Yet that is exactly what Facebook, Twitter, et. al. are doing.

      Google searches are also protected, as long as they are only censoring “obscene” results (which they already do with their “safe search” toggle.)

      As for these companies getting sued out of existence for trying to force their political philosophies on the public to the exclusion of all opposition: good. I’m all for it.

      1. They are protected now because Section 230 exists. I was responding to the argument that Section 230 should be repealed and pointing out what the consequences would be for MDN and everyone else.

        1. I’m aware of what you were pointing out. My point was that no one would even be upset now if they were following what Section 230 says, but they are not. They are violating the spirit of it while hiding behind it. The courts have already screwed up the interpretation of what Section 230 literally says, and that protects Big Tech. Section 230 needs to be rewritten to clarify what it says (although I think it’s already pretty darned clear), or yanked entirely. Either way, I don’t care what the consequences are for Big Tech.

  4. Gee Jack, looks like you just rolled out of bed after a busy night of Antifing.

    With regard on what Congress should do with Social Media’s Censorship, to similarly quote Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…”

    “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (gasps for air) “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (gasps for air)
    “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (gasps for air) “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (gasps for air)
    “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (I can’t breathe) “Regulate… Regulate… Regulate…” (I can’t breathe)

  5. Rightwing and Leftwing Capitalism is inexorably closing the internet because it wrongly thinks it owns it and because it mistakenly thinks that it knows the correct thinking. That’s classical Fascism which anti-Fascists, currently known as Antifa, deplore.

    1. Where exactly is the “Rightwing” closing the internet? If seems just the opposite.
      RW’gers seem to actually want to “open” the portion the LW’gers want closed. I don’t get the sense the RW is objecting what their fed…they want the whole meal.

      Btw, you say it as if you know the correct thinking. Can I assume you’re embracing your fascistic “reasoning?”

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