U.S. LAWMAKERS TELL BIG TECH CEOs: TIME FOR SELF-REGULATION IS OVER
In their first appearance before Congress since Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol, the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked by US lawmakers whether their platforms bore some responsibility for the riot: “Yes or no?”
Social media have been widely blamed for amplifying calls to violence and spreading misinformation that contributed to the Jan. 6 attempt to violently overturn the election results, Diane Bartz and Elizabeth Culliford reported for Reuters.
Only Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey replied "yes" to the question, but said the "broader ecosystem" had to be taken into account. Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google parent Alphabet Inc., said the company always feels a sense of responsibility but it was a complex question.
Facebook Inc.'s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company was responsible for building "effective systems." He also said that the rioters and former President Donald Trump should be held accountable.
Lawmakers widely slammed the platforms' approach to false or dangerous content. The three companies have taken steps to curb misinformation but researchers have shown it is still widely present on the platforms.
"We fled as a mob desecrated the Capitol, the House floor, and our democratic process," said Democratic Representative Mike Doyle, who asked the CEOs about their responsibility.
"That attack, and the movement that motivated it, started and was nourished on your platforms," he added.
"Your business model itself has become the problem and the time for self-regulation is over. It's time we legislate to hold you accountable," said Democratic Representative Frank Pallone, chair of the Energy and Commerce committee.
Some lawmakers are calling for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms from liability over user content, to be scrapped or rejigged. There are several pieces of legislation from Democrats to reform Section 230 that are doing the rounds in Congress, though progress has been slow. Several Republican lawmakers have also been pushing separately to scrap the law entirely.