Jack Dorsey advised a Senate panel on Wednesday that Twitter doesn’t have the ability to affect elections, simply days earlier than a US presidential vote the place the actions of his and different social media platforms have come below intense scrutiny.
The Twitter boss appeared by way of video earlier than the Senate commerce committee alongside Fb’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai, the place the chief executives sought to defend their content material moderation processes as unbiased.
The committee is one among a number of our bodies reviewing Part 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a legislation that offers tech platforms immunity from being sued over user-generated content material.
Such sweeping protections are seen by some as too beneficiant. Republicans have claimed the businesses censor rightwing voices after the businesses restricted a few of President Donald Trump’s posts for breaching their misinformation insurance policies. Individually, the platforms have confronted calls from leftwing teams to higher police consumer content material within the wake of proof that Russia used social media to attempt to manipulate voters within the 2016 US election.
However responding to a query from Texas senator Ted Cruz, Mr Dorsey mentioned that he didn’t consider his platform had the ability to affect elections.
“We’re one channel in a spectrum of communication channels that folks have . . . Folks have a alternative of different communication channels,” Mr Dorsey mentioned.
“In case you don’t suppose you’ve gotten the ability to affect elections, why do you block something?” Mr Cruz requested. Mr Dorsey replied that the corporate moderated content material to be able to cease abuse and harassment and to make sure that voices weren’t silenced.
Committee chairman and Republican senator Roger Wicker opened the listening to by accusing Twitter and the opposite platforms of “selective censorship . . . within the midst of the 2020 election cycle”.
He cited the choice by Fb and Twitter so as to add restrictions to a New York Submit story about presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter, dissemination of which was curbed on the idea that it was primarily based on hacked supplies. However, Mr Wicker mentioned, the platforms had not restricted a damning New York Occasions story about Mr Trump’s tax returns.
“Observers are left to wonder if massive tech corporations are obstructing the move of data to learn one political ideology,” the senator from Mississippi mentioned.
All three platforms have denied that they’re biased in the direction of any political social gathering. Analysis means that rightwing content material tends to obtain a few of the highest engagement on the platforms.
In his opening assertion, made public on Tuesday, Mr Zuckerberg grew to become the primary massive tech group chief to endorse some reform of Part 230, calling on Congress to “replace the legislation to ensure it’s working as meant”.
Whereas Mr Zuckerberg didn’t say which particular reform proposals he backed, he expressed help for “concepts round transparency and business collaboration which might be being mentioned in a few of the present bipartisan proposals”.
Lindsey Graham, the Republican head of the Senate judiciary committee, is main one bipartisan effort that may create a nationwide fee — together with heads of legislation enforcement businesses, authorized consultants and business executives — to set a collection of “finest practices” for web corporations to observe. Solely corporations that adopted these tips could be granted Part 230 immunity.
In contrast, Mr Dorsey mentioned that “eroding the inspiration of Part 230 may collapse how we talk on the web, leaving solely a small variety of large and well-funded know-how corporations” in a position to totally police content material and take care of authorized liabilities.