Five things to watch as Facebook, Google, Twitter CEOs testify in Congress

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The CEOs of Facebook, Google father or mother Alphabet, and Twitter testify earlier than Congress on Thursday for the primary time since pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, an assault in which critics say social media performed a vital function.

Here are 5 things to watch for in the testimony of Facebook Inc’s Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc’s Jack Dorsey earlier than two subcommittees of the Energy and Commerce Committee:

ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN THE CAPITOL VIOLENCE

After the November presidential election, false narratives about voting fraud on social media and elsewhere helped to spur supporters of former President Donald Trump to storm the Capitol, the seat of U.S. authorities, on Jan. 6. Lawmakers will possible ask about social media’s function in inciting the violence.

The non-profit Avaaz mentioned in a brand new report this week that it had recognized 267 Facebook pages and teams – together with “Stop the Steal” teams – with some 32 million followers that unfold content material glorifying violence late final 12 months. Facebook took difficulty with the report, it mentioned.

SHOULD SECTION 230 BE CHANGED?

The tech platforms have lengthy lobbied to defend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields on-line platforms from legal responsibility over consumer content material, whereas some Republicans have advocated that it’s scrapped and several other bipartisan proposals have urged revising it.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg urged in written testimony launched on Wednesday that it’s modified to give platforms immunity from legal responsibility in the event that they observe finest practices for eradicating damaging materials from their platforms.

Google’s Pichai and Twitter’s Dorsey proposed approaches such as growing content material insurance policies which are clear and giving customers methods to attraction choices.

HAS TRUMP TWEETED FOR THE LAST TIME?

Republican lawmakers have been angered by the selections to droop Trump from Facebook and Twitter in the waning days of his administration, and what they see as a basic stifling of conservative voices.

Republicans might strain the CEOs to reverse course. Or they might determine that the suspensions aren’t any large deal since Trump has apparently determined to launch his personal platform in coming months.

A PANDEMIC OF MISINFORMATION

Lawmakers have been aggravated by widespread misinformation on-line about COVID-19, together with how critical and actual the pandemic is, bogus therapies for the coronavirus and whether or not vaccines to inoculate folks in opposition to it are protected.

Facebook mentioned not too long ago that it eliminated greater than 12 million items of content material about COVID-19 and vaccines that international well being consultants flagged as misinformation.

Still, the Center for Countering Digital Hate mentioned in a report this week that each one three platforms had failed to satisfactorily implement their vaccine misinformation insurance policies and attorneys basic for 12 states mentioned Facebook and Twitter wanted to do extra to fight the issue.

WHAT ARE PLATFORMS DOING TO STOP MISINFORMATION?

The platforms have invested in content material moderation geared toward curbing misinformation and launched a flurry of recent guidelines in current months.

Zuckerberg in his testimony will speak about its third-party fact-checking community and the way Facebook promotes authoritative info. He can even proceed to emphasize that Facebook isn’t about political content material for many customers. Dorsey will speak about Twitter’s misinformation insurance policies and plans, such as its fact-checking experiment Birdwatch.

Pichai in written testimony on Wednesday additionally listed actions taken by Google after Jan. 6, such as giving authoritative information sources a better profile.

Lawmakers might ask the platforms whether or not actions after the assault on Congress have been too little, too late.

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