Tech executives Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey were grilled by US politicians for spreading disinformation on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Three tech bosses appeared before two Senate subcommittees and the Energy and Commerce Committee, the first hearing since the US Capitol siege.
Politicians believe the tipping point for more regulation has been reached after it emerged that many of the protesters on US Capitol Hill had organized themselves on social media and supported campaigns claiming the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.
Lawmakers plan to change laws that protect online platforms from liability for third-party content, and he called on social media to remove 12 anti-vaxxers within 24 hours, 65% of which are online.
Congress is considering repealing Section 230, enacted in the early days of the Internet, so that site operators can moderate sites without legal liability by effectively declaring that they are not publishers.
Zuckerberg outlined steps Facebook had taken to combat disinformation, including working with 80 fact-checking organizations and tagging debunked stories, and claimed Facebook had removed 12 million false content related to Covid-19.
YouTube’s Pichai said it has spent the past year identifying and removing misleading content, while Covid’s 19 data panels on the video site’s homepage have received 400 billion views, noting that repealing Section 230 would hurt freedom of expression and the ability of social media platforms to take action to protect users amid ever-changing challenges.
For his part, Twitter’s Dorsey argued that efforts to combat misinformation must be linked to building user trust, which can be achieved by increasing transparency, procedural fairness, enabling algorithmic selection, and improving privacy.
Twitter’s Birdwatch program has about 2,000 fact-checkers who can mark and comment on misleading tweets. Bluesky, an independent team also funded by Twitter, is tasked with creating open and decentralized standards for social media.
Still, many believe that social media has fueled a wave of distrust of the legitimacy of the elections.
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