U.S. Congressmen on Thursday launched a violent attack on social media executives, accusing the two companies of expanding fake content and calls for violence, while promising to introduce new regulations to curb rampant online disinformation.
The video hearing was attended remotely by senior executives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and it began a stormy start because lawmakers accused them of deliberately creating addictive products.
Ohio Republican Congressman Bill Johnson said: “Big technology is essentially lighting a cigarette for our children and hoping that they will be addicted to it for the rest of their lives.”
“Former Facebook executives admitted that they used tobacco industry scripts for addictive products.”
Congressman Frank Pallone told executives that it is time to enact legislation and take more aggressive actions to eliminate false information and extremism on online platforms.
Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Google’s Sundar Pichai, and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg were bombarded by members of Congress for about six hours, who blamed their platforms on drug abuse, youth suicide, hatred, political extremism, illegal immigration, vaccination and more. .
Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi said: “They didn’t mention cancer, but it could be because they mentioned everything else.” “This is a sad political stage.”
Democrats criticized these platforms for failing to stop misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine and incitement before the congressional riots on January 6. Republicans have resurrected unconfirmed complaints that social networks are biased towards conservatives.
Republican representative Bob Latta accused the company of “operating in a vague and biased manner, with little or no accountability,” which relied on the law to empower them to “block” others from taking responsibility for the content they posted. right.
Republican Gus Bilirakis said: “People want to use your service, but they suspect that your coders are designing what they think we should see and hear.”
Free expression and moderation
The CEOs of these technologies say they are doing everything they can to stop harmful content.
Dorsey said: “We believe in free expression. We believe in free debate and dialogue to find the truth.”
“At the same time, we must strike a balance between our desire not to be used to spread chaotic or distracting services. This makes the freedom to regulate content essential to us.”
Dorsey advocates the establishment of an open protocol as a social media platform’s sharing criteria for reviewing content.
Members of Congress urged quick, yes or no answers to questions that focus on making complex systems that perfectly determine the background, accuracy, danger, and legitimacy of positions.
Analyst Milanesi said at the hearing: “You can’t just answer yes or no.”
“That’s why all of this is a mess; because there are so many nuances.”
Zuckerberg once again confirmed his belief that when it comes to what people say, private companies should not be judges of truth.
Zuckerberg told the group members: “The facts people often tell are not proven to be correct, but they illustrate their life experiences.”
At the same time, the Facebook founder said: “We also don’t want to spread misinformation that would undermine confidence in the vaccine, prevent people from voting or cause other harm.”
Pichai, the company that owns YouTube, defended the video platform’s actions, saying that after the January 6 uprising, it “increased the province’s authoritative resources on YouTube” and “removed live broadcasts and videos that violated our policy of inciting violence.”
Pichai said that Google’s mission is to “provide trusted content and opportunities for free expression, while avoiding misrepresentation of information. This is a huge challenge.”
Zuckerberg proposed to legislators a proposal to reform debt protection measures, namely Section 230, and suggested that the platform has established a system to filter and delete illegal content.
He insisted that Congress “should consider making platforms have intermediate liability protection for certain types of illegal content, depending on the company’s ability to follow best practices to combat the spread of such content.”
The parliamentarians stated that they would introduce their proposals to reform Article 230.
“The regulations we seek should not attempt to restrict the freedom of speech protected by the Constitution, but must be applied when the platform is used to incite violence and hatred, or in the case of the COVID pandemic, to spread misinformation and kill thousands of people. Responsible, said Jan Shekowski, a representative of the Democratic Party.
Pallone also told executives: “Your business model itself has become a problem, and the time for self-regulation has passed.”
Some lawmakers believe that the algorithms used by platforms like Facebook amplify inflammatory content.
Representative Adam Kinzinger (Adam Kinzinger) cited research reports that Facebook algorithm “is actively promoting divisive hatred and conspiracy content because it attracts users to spend more time.”
Zuckerberg replied: “There are many misunderstandings about how our algorithm works and what optimizations we are currently doing.”
He added, “We are working hard to help people have meaningful social interactions”, but “this is very different from the algorithmic settings that lead to addiction.”
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