U.S. Congress grilled CEOs’ of Silicon Valley tech giants of Facebook, Twitter and Google on dissemination of misinformation on their platforms

The CEOs’ of three tech giants answered pressing questions from the members of U.S. Congress on misinformation. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Jack Dorsey of Twitter appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday via virtual link to explain their policies and practices to contain false information of COVID-19, extremism, and U.S. elections on their platforms. The committee also discussed the “opaque algorithms that prioritize user engagement and promote misinformation.”

Unfortunately, a few events in the recent past have highlighted the profound influence social media has in shaping users’ minds and actions. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 anti-maskers and deniers have used Facebook, YouTube owned by Google, and Twitter to spread conspiracy theories related to the spread of the coronavirus, and baselessly connecting it with 5G technology. Now, the conspirators are using the platform to dissuade people from getting vaccinated.

Furthermore, the Capitol Hill attack shock the lawmakers on knowing that the attack was planned, organized, and coordinated on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. That is why the CEOs appeared before the committee to explain the preventive measures taken to contain the spread of misinformation. However, the first hearing turned into a battlefield.

Facebook, Twitter, Google

In the first hearing on misinformation, the Congress committee found CEOs’ of Facebook, Google and Twitter as evasive and condescending

The hours-long virtual hearing did not go smoothly for either side and as per CNN, the committee did not seem convinced by the tech leaders’ answers.

Members of Congress accused the CEOs of being smug, evasive and condescending. In some of their responses, the CEOs appeared to barely restrain their own exasperation with gotcha-minded yes-or-no questions.

Jack Dorsey expressed his frustration on Twitter during the meeting by retweeting a post demanding that the legislators engage Dorsey in a discussion on Twitter’s protocols feature to contain misinformation.

Having said that, the hearing was the CEOs’ opportunity to convince the lawmakers of their efforts to regulate their platforms regarding misinformation. CNN reports:

For the executives in the hotseat, Thursday’s session may also be their last chance to make a case personally to lawmakers before Congress embarks on potentially sweeping changes to federal law.
At the heart of the coming policy battle is Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, the signature liability shield that grants websites legal immunity for much of the content posted by their users. Members of both parties have called for updates to the law, which has been interpreted broadly by the courts and is credited with the development of the open internet.
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