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.
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.
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