Business

The US Congress wants Facebook and Twitter to change. But they don’t agree on how.

Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg testified for the second time in less than three weeks.

5 min read

This article has been translated from our English edition.

The US Congress wants Facebook and Twitter to change. But they don’t agree on how.
The US Congress wants Facebook and Twitter to change. But they don’t agree on how.

This story originally appeared on Engadget

Mark Zuckerberg Y. Jack Dorsey They again spent hours answering questions from US Senators who want CEOs to make fundamental changes to how their platforms work. The hearing, which marked Dorsey and Zuckerberg’s second multi-hour Congress appearance in less than three weeks, was supposed to deal with “censorship, repression and the 2020 elections.”

Congress once again made it clear that not only did they not agree to the solution, but they did not even agree on the problem. Republicans were more interested in discussing the basics of content moderation. Senator Ted Cruz questioned Dorsey about the use of labels in posts about election fraud on Twitter, describing the company’s stance as a “controversial political position.” While Missouri Senator Josh Hawley asked Zuckerberg about the company’s task management software, citing a Facebook “whistleblower”. Both senators asked for lists of politicians and issues corporations had to contend with.

Democrats, on the other hand, have sometimes been more eager to pressure CEOs for disinformation. Noting that some of Trump’s posts were among the most engaging, Cory Booker asked Zuckerberg if Facebook would take steps to prevent algorithmic amplification of fake Trump posts.

Zuckerberg pointed to other steps the company has taken, such as banning political groups from the website’s recommendations. Senator Richard Blumenthal advocated how companies are dealing with the growing problem of misinformation in Spanish and why Facebook refused to ban Steve Bannon after proposing to behead government officials.

But even the more than four-hour audience temporarily deviated from the course. The committee chairman Lindsey Graham initially attacked the addictive qualities of social media, citing Snapchat as particularly “dangerous” (Snap did not attend the hearing). And Senator Amy Klobuchar spent much of her time discussing antitrust concerns, forcing Zuckerberg to defend Facebook’s 2012 takeover of Instagram.

Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey once again answered questions from US Senators for hours. / Image: Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images / Phillip Faraone | Getty Images
However, there were moments that felt like a real discussion. Both Zuckerberg and Dorsey explained how they believe section 230 could be changed for the better. Dorsey spoke repeatedly about increasing transparency around ranking algorithms and allowing users to choose how their feeds should be filtered, and at one point pointed to a potential “marketplace” for third-party algorithms. Zuckerberg, however, referred to Facebook’s transparency reports. He suggested that there should be a standardized framework for other social media companies to post similar information so that users can have an “apples to apples” method of understanding how effective company policies are. Conveniently, Facebook has its next quarterly transparency report to be released later this week.

One of the most important moments came when the CEOs were pressured on how they would handle Trump’s accounts if he left the office of President of the United States. Dorsey confirmed that the company will no longer apply the special protection it offers to world market leaders. Zuckerberg didn’t reply directly: he said Facebook would continue to treat Trump “just like everyone else” when it comes to hate speech and violence. However, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company could verify the president’s facts after he left office former politician are eligible for this role.

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