Washington, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- The CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter – Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey, respectively – on Wednesday faced the ire of Republican senators in Congress, who accused them of “censoring” conservative commentary and underminind freedom of expression on the social networks.
“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?” Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, asked Dorsey in a heated exchange before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday.
The GOP lawmaker used as an example the restrictions imposed by Twitter earlier in October to limit the spread of a New York Post report containing allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter that have been disputed by the former vice president’s campaign.
Dorsey rejected the accusation although he acknowledged that the social network needs “to earn trust more, we realized that more accountability is needed to show our intentions and to show the outcomes.”
He promised, therefore, to work toward “great transparency” about hos Twitter prepares its content monitoring policy.
Dorsey said, in addition, that Twitter does not remove all kinds of disinformation, but rather focuses on three specific categories: manipulation of the media, disinformation regarding questions of public health, especially references to Covid-19, and election interference and vote suppression.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican representing Tennessee, asked about why Twitter on 65 occasions had “censored” the tweets posted by President Donald Trump and Dorsey said that they had not been eliminated but rather additional context had been added by the social network, as it does with any world leader.
Ironically, Twitter is the president’s favorite social network and since he took office he has made it his main channel for communicating directly with the public.
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg acknowledged that Facebook continues seeing attempts to interfere in the Nov. 3 elections, especially from Russia, although also from Iran and China, and he emphasized that his social network is working closely with US authorities on the matter.
Democratic senators on the committee criticized their Republican colleagues because during the hearing, the theme of which was ostensibly the legal protections enjoyed by the big Internet platforms under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, that question was barely touched upon and the GOP members limited themselves to lambasting the three big tech CEOs.
That section of the law says that big Internet companies are exempt from almost any legal consequences resulting from the content published on their platforms, including their own decisions to eliminate content, because they are merely intermediaries or channels for speech.