It’s getting used to Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Pichai defend Facebook, Twitter and Google before Congress
On Thursday, the ceos of Facebook, Twitter and Google will face Congress to discuss misinformation and defend the shield of responsibility that helped create their platforms.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sandra Pichai are scheduled to attend.
In a written testimony to be handed over to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Zuckerberg of Facebook and Dorsey of Twitter discussed how their platforms reflect the views of society as a whole.
« Our community is deeply divided, and we see that in our services as well, » Zuckerberg said. Dorsey spoke of a « lack of confidence », which affects the entire « information ecosystem. »
The testimony of the three CEOs has become common place in Congress over the past year, as companies have been pushed to defend their competitive practices and content modification policies.
Thursday’s hearing will be Zuckerberg’s fourth congressional testimony since July. It will be the third for Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai during the same period.
Here’s what they plan to say, according to their written notes:
Zuckerberg plans to tell Congress that political content and hatred are only a small fraction of what Facebook users see. Political publications account for only about 6% of what u.S. users see in their news feed, and the prevalence of bad content that users see is less than 0.08%.
Zuckerberg will outline steps Facebook has taken to combat misinformation on the company’s platforms about the election and the Corona pandemic, where Facebook uses verification tools to help expose misinformation, and seeks to crack down on pages that publish and monetize misinformation.
The company invested in local news and promoted reliable sources about the virus and the vaccine to disseminate the information that was tested.
Zuckerberg also plans to discuss Facebook’s efforts to remove hateful content from its platforms, eliminating more than 250 groups of white supremacists and 890 military social movements to date.
Zuckerberg will say that his platform has banned hate groups, and will advise lawmakers on how to reform Section 230 of the Communications Ethics Act, which protects platforms from becoming responsible for their users’ publications.
Facebook’s CEO will ask lawmakers to focus on transparency and consider making protection conditional on companies’ ability to meet best practices to prevent the spread of illegal content.
Zuckerberg argues that platforms should be evaluated on the basis of the adequacy of their systems to handle illegal content. What constitutes an appropriate system must depend on the size of the platform, and is developed by a third party that ensures fair and clear practices, rather than holding platforms accountable for individual parts of the content, which fall under the loopholes of their policies.
Dorsey’s certification will focus on the « lack of confidence » on and off technology platforms. In his written remarks, the Twitter boss explained in detail how Twitter plans to gain the trust of its users by enhancing transparency, making its procedures fair, and giving users control over their privacy settings and algorithms that affect what they see on the platform.
Twitter is also experimenting with two projects that it hopes will help combat misinformation. The first is Birdwatch, a pilot program that lets Twitter users think about information they think is wrong to add relevant context.
The second is Bluesky, an independent Twitter-funded team working to create decentralized open standards for social media. Dorsey said the system should help startups, which lack resources, address abuse and hate speech more easily.
Pichai will highlight Google’s work to show reliable sources, combat misinformation about the election and the Corona epidemic.
In its written testimony, Google discussed the investment of training and press resources, advertising grants to government agencies and non-profit organizations to display public service announcements about Cofed-19, and additional safeguards put in place before the 2020 elections to verify advertisers.
Unlike Zuckerberg, Pichai does not make a specific proposal to reform Section 230. Instead, he plans to tell lawmakers that he is « concerned » that recent proposals to change or repeal the law will backfire on stated goals to improve platform accountability.
Such proposals would harm freedom of expression and the ability of platforms to take action on harmful publications, Pichai wrote.
Instead, he offers suggestions for actions that platforms can take to improve transparency and fairness about their policies, and says Google is « committed not only to playing our part in our services, but also to improving transparency across our industry. »