Here’s what big tech CEOs will say at today’s Congressional hearing

CEOs of Facebook, Google & Twitter discuss misinformation

Congress floor during a vote

The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will appear before Congress today. Ahead of the hearing, the CEOs’ prepared remarks showed differing strategies for defending their companies and the laws designed to protect them.

The big tech CEOs have repeatedly testified before Congress over the past year amid lawmaker investigations into their competitive practices and content moderation policies. 

Today’s hearing will be Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s fourth appearance before Congress since July. It’ll be the third time for Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai.

The tech CEOs will discuss Section 230, one of the tension points between Silicon Valley and Capitol Hill. 

Section 230 is a clause in the 1996 Communications Decency Act that offers media companies broad protection from lawsuits over user-generated comments on their websites. It paved the way for the rise of large platforms like Facebook and other social media sites that thrive on user content.

Here are selections from the CEOs’ prepared remarks:

Facebook: In his prepared testimony, Zuckerberg described the steps Facebook has taken to fight misinformation, particularly regarding COVID-19 and the 2020 election. 

He discussed Facebook’s efforts to remove hateful content from its platforms, including removing more than 250 white supremacist groups and nearly 900 militarized social movements.

Regarding Section 230, Zuckerberg plans to tell lawmakers they should consider only protecting companies that meet best practices to prevent the spread of unlawful content.

Twitter: In Dorsey’s prepared testimony, he outlined how Twitter plans to earn users’ trust of its users by promoting transparency. He said Twitter is working to make its procedures fair and to give users control over their privacy settings and the algorithms that influence what they see on Twitter.

Google: Like Zuckerberg, Pichai’s prepared testimony highlighted Google’s efforts to combat misinformation around the 2020 election and COVID-19. 

Unlike Zuckerberg, he didn’t offer a proposal for reforming Section 230. Instead, he said he’s concerned that proposals to change or repeal the law will backfire.

“Section 230 is foundational to the open web: it allows platforms and websites, big and small, across the entire internet, to responsibly manage content to keep users safe and promote access to information and free expression,” Pichai said

“Without Section 230, platforms would either over-filter content or not be able to filter content at all. In the fight against misinformation, Section 230 allows companies to take decisive action on harmful misinformation and keep up with bad actors who work hard to circumvent their policies.”

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