Facebook, Twitter CEOs Face Angry GOP Senators

Lawmakers accused them of anti-conservative bias
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2020 7:03 PM CST
Senators Grill Tech CEOs Again
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter's actions around the closely contested election on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.   (Hannah McKay/Pool via AP)

Two social media CEOs appeared for another grilling by a Senate panel Tuesday, with senators from both parties expressing concerns about their content moderation policies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared remotely at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, where Republican lawmakers accused them of anti-conservative bias, the AP reports. They also appeared at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing three weeks ago. "Your companies are the most powerful in the world," GOP Sen. Josh Hawley told Dorsey and Zuckerberg. "It is time we took action against these modern-day robber barons." More:

  • Agreement on transparency. Politico reports that Democrats, Republicans, and even the CEOs agreed that the companies should be more transparent about their content policies and how they are enforced. "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," the panel's chair, GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, said in his opening remarks.

  • Dorsey defends labeling tweets. The Twitter CEO defended the decision to label election-related tweets, including many from President Trump, that contained false or misleading information, reports the New York Times. He admitted some mistakes had been made, but said the task of moderating content is getting tougher. "We are facing something that feels impossible," he told lawmakers. "We are required to help increase the health of the public conversation while at the same time ensuring that as many people as possible can participate." He said some 300,000 election-related tweets were flagged between Oct. 27 and Nov. 11.
  • "Working the refs." Sen. Mazie Hirono was among the Democrats who urged Dorsey and Zuckerberg not to abandon fact-checking policies over allegations of anti-conservative bias. "The fact of the matter is that these allegations are completely baseless," she said. "The way I see it, this hearing is a transparent effort by my Republican colleagues to work the refs."
  • They will stay vigilant ahead of Georgia election. Both CEOs said they would keep up efforts to fight election misinformation ahead of the January special elections in Georgia that are likely to determine control of the senate, reports the AP. "Election interference remains an ongoing threat," Zuckerberg said.
  • No exemption for Trump after he leaves office. Dorsey said that when Trump's time as president is up in January, he will no longer qualify for an exemption that allows rule-breaking tweets to remain up because they are newsworthy, Variety reports. If an account holder suddenly "is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away," he said.
  • Republicans dominated questioning. The Times reports that Dorsey and Zuckerberg were asked a total of 127 questions, 72 of them from Republicans. Most of the Republican questions were about content moderation policies, while the majority of the Democratic questions were about misinformation and antitrust concerns.
(More social media stories.)

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