A broader theme of the listening to was to ascertain what duties tech corporations ought to have for moderating content material, and what function the US authorities ought to play — a important query that can inform a legislative effort on on-line content material subsequent 12 months, as soon as a brand new Congress is sworn in.
Laying down baseline expectations for the result of that effort, main members of the Senate Judiciary Committee stated they didn’t suppose it is applicable for the US authorities to get immediately concerned in on-line content material moderation.
“I’m not, nor ought to we be on this committee, occupied with being a member of the speech police,” stated Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the panel’s prime Democrat.
“We have to discover a solution to be sure that when Twitter and Fb decide about what’s dependable and what’s not, what to maintain up and what to take down, that there is transparency within the system,” stated Graham. “And I believe Part 230 must be modified, as a result of we will not get there from right here with out change.”
The executives and lawmakers spent hours debating, amongst different issues, whether or not social media platforms are analogous to information publishers or telecommunications corporations, the result of which may decide what regulatory framework Congress could search to impose on tech platforms.
Zuckerberg pushed again on the parallels, arguing that social media represents a wholly new sector of the financial system that the federal authorities ought to maintain accountable beneath a singular mannequin.
“We do have duties, and it might make sense for there to be legal responsibility for a number of the content material that’s on the platform,” Zuckerberg stated. “However I do not suppose the analogies to those different industries … will ever be totally the best method to consider this.”
The tech corporations proposed completely different approaches.
Dorsey, in contrast, stated federal coverage shouldn’t rely too closely on any single set of algorithms to reasonable content material. As a substitute, he argued, shoppers ought to be capable of select amongst many algorithms — and even to decide out of getting content material selections made algorithmically altogether. He warned in opposition to any strategy that might threat “entrenching” the dominance of huge, closely resourced social media platforms that might adjust to and implement them, in what could have been a jab at Fb.
“As we glance ahead,” Dorsey stated, “we now have increasingly more of our selections, of our operations, shifting to algorithms which have a troublesome time explaining why they make selections, bringing transparency round these selections. And that’s the reason we consider that we should always have extra selection in how these algorithms are utilized to our content material, whether or not we use them in any respect, so we will flip them on and off — and have readability across the outcomes that they’re projecting and the way they have an effect on our expertise.”
Zuckerberg, in the meantime, additionally acknowledged a misstep in how Fb dealt with a web page on its platform that urged armed counter-protesters to assemble in response to racial fairness protests in Kenosha, Wisc. Two individuals have been killed on the protests.
However as Congress turns its eye to legislating, the web content material debate is prone to shift from tech corporations’ responses to particular person incidents to the job that lawmakers have been despatched to Washington to carry out.
“I totally anticipate Congress goes to behave,” stated Sen. Thom Tillis. “Within the subsequent Congress, we’ll produce an final result.”