The House Energy & Commerce Committee has lined up the CEO's from Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify at a hearing on "Misinformation and Disinformation Plaguing Online Platforms," signaling that self-regulation has failed and Congress needs to step in.
The March 25 hearing with Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichair and Jack Dorsey will be a joint hearing of the Communications and Consumer Protection Subcommittees.
House Democrats have long complained that those platforms have not done enough to weed out dangerous speech.
“Whether it be falsehoods about the COVID-19 vaccine or debunked claims of election fraud, these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety,” said Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) and Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowski (D-Ill.). “This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation. For far too long, big tech has failed to acknowledge the role they’ve played in fomenting and elevating blatantly false information to its online audiences. Industry self-regulation has failed. We must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.”
One of those is social media's Sec. 230 immunity for civil liability for third party content posted on their sites. Democrats and Republicans alike have said that immunity is too broad and should be reigned in or eliminated altogether.
Republicans have created a Big Tech Accountability agenda, a GOP platform guided by four principles: 1) transparency; 2) accountability; 3) consistency and objectivity; and competition.
For Republicans, the de-posting or flagging of some content on conservative Web sites and the banning of then-President Trump from Facebook and Twitter have raised conservative bias claims to a new pitch.
House E&C Democrats, citing "deep concern," fired off letters to Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Pichai as part of their investigation into their handling of COVID-19 information, or, more to the point, disinformation.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.