A broader theme of the listening to was to determine what duties tech firms ought to have for moderating content material, and what function the US authorities ought to play — a essential 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 mentioned they didn’t assume it is applicable for the US authorities to get instantly concerned in on-line content material moderation.
“I am not, nor should we be on this committee, interested in being a member of the speech police,” mentioned Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the panel’s prime Democrat.
“We’ve got to find a way to make sure that when Twitter and Facebook make a decision about what’s reliable and what’s not, what to keep up and what to take down, that there’s transparency in the system,” mentioned Graham. “And I think Section 230 has to be changed, because we can’t get there from here without change.”
The executives and lawmakers spent hours debating, amongst different issues, whether or not social media platforms are analogous to information publishers or telecommunications firms, the result of which might 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 economic system that the federal authorities ought to maintain accountable underneath a novel mannequin.
“We do have responsibilities, and it may make sense for there to be liability for some of the content that is on the platform,” Zuckerberg mentioned. “But I don’t think the analogies to these other industries … will ever be fully the right way to think about this.”
The tech firms proposed different approaches.
Dorsey, in contrast, mentioned federal coverage mustn’t rely too closely on any single set of algorithms to reasonable content material. Instead, he argued, customers ought to be capable of select amongst many algorithms — and even to choose 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 Facebook.
“As we look forward,” Dorsey mentioned, “we have more and more of our decisions, of our operations, moving to algorithms which have a difficult time explaining why they make decisions, bringing transparency around those decisions. And that is why we believe that we should have more choice in how these algorithms are applied to our content, whether we use them at all, so we can turn them on and off — and have clarity around the outcomes that they are projecting and how they affect our experience.”
Zuckerberg, in the meantime, additionally acknowledged a misstep in how Facebook dealt with a web page on its platform that urged armed counter-protesters to collect in response to racial fairness protests in Kenosha, Wisc. Two folks had been killed on the protests.
But as Congress turns its eye to legislating, the net content material debate is more likely to shift from tech firms’ responses to particular person incidents to the job that lawmakers had been despatched to Washington to carry out.
“I fully expect Congress is going to act,” mentioned Sen. Thom Tillis. “In the next Congress, we’re going to produce an outcome.”