The heads of Facebook, Google and Twitter testify at the House hearing on disinformation

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified on Thursday that he believed that the blame for the January 6 MAGA riot rested with former President Donald Trump and those who broke into the Capitol.

“I think the former president should be responsible for his words and the people who broke the law should be responsible for their actions. So that leaves the question of the wider information ecosystem, ”Zuckerberg said.

Zuckerberg suggested that Facebook had a responsibility to “build systems that can help.”

Facebook’s CEO, who, along with Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Sundar Pichai, Google’s parent company Alphabet, testified before two Energy and Commerce subcommittees, opposed recognizing any responsibility for the Capitol attack.

When asked the same question, Pichai replied, “Oh, we always feel a deep sense of responsibility, but I think we worked hard on this election, the effort was one of our most substantive efforts.”

When Rep. Mike Doyle Pichai asked if that was a yes or no to taking responsibility for spreading the information related to the ‘stop the steel’ movement propelling the uprising, he replied: ‘It’s a complex question. ‘

Dorsey replied yes, with a reservation. ‘But you also have to take the broader ecosystem into account.’

Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified virtually before two subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce panel

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified virtually before two subcommittees of the House Energy and Commerce panel

The Sundar Pichai of the Alphabet

The Sundar Pichai of the Alphabet

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Also on Thursday, the head of Google’s parent company Alphabet Sundar Pichai (left) and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (right)

Members of the two Energy and Trade subcommittees began beating the CEOs even before company heads issued their opening statements.

Doyle, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, accused them of playing a part in the January 6 uprising.

“That attack and the movement that motivated it started and fed on your platforms,” ​​he said.

Zuckerberg went back to those claims.

“We did our part to ensure the integrity of the election, and then President Trump gave a speech on Jan. 6 denouncing the results and calling on people to fight,” Zuckerberg said. “The attack on the Capitol was a disgrace, and I want to express my condolences to all members, staff and Capitol employees who have endured this shameful moment in our history.”

“And I want to express my gratitude to the Capitol Police, who have been on the front lines in defense of our democracy,” added the Facebook co-founder.

Zuckerberg said Facebook worked with law enforcement to identify members of the MAGA crowd and removed “messages supporting violence.”

“We have not taken care of everything, but we have made our services inhospitable to those who might harm,” he said. “And when we feared he might incite even more violence, we suspended the former president’s bills.”

Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat from New Jersey, complained that the social media companies took advantage of an algorithm that feeds people sensational content.

He asked Pichai whether YouTube, which is owned by Google, is designed to keep people on the site longer.

Pichai said this was not the only goal, while Pallone intervened, “so the answer is yes.”

“What happens online doesn’t stay online – it impacts the real world,” Palone said. “That’s why Congress needs to act, because you’re not a bystander, you’re encouraging this stuff.”

Zuckerberg argued that misinformation actually negatively impacts Facebook’s business.

“People don’t want to see misinformation or divisive content on our services. People don’t want to see clickbait and stuff like that, ”Zuckerberg said. “While it may be true that people are more likely to click on it in the short term, it’s not good for our company or our product or our community that this content is there, it’s not what people want.”

Other Democrats knocked on the platforms for distributing anti-vax content.

Republicans have condemned the tech CEOs for censoring conservatives.

“In the eyes of Twitter, it is better to be a pedophile pornographer, an awakened racist, or a state sponsor of terror, than to be a conservative, even a conservative, president,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Republican from South Carolina.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers accused social media of harming young people.

“You know what convinced me that big technology is a destructive force?” she asked. “It’s how you misused your power to manipulate and harm our children,” she said.

Zuckerberg said he didn’t believe Facebook was harmful to children.

“This is something we study and do a lot about,” he said. “What our products do is help people stay connected to the people they care about.”

He said Facebook is trying to ensure that the minimum age of users is 13.

WHAT IS SECTION 230 OF THE COMMUNICATIONS DECENCY ACT

Under US law, Internet companies are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 – itself part of a broader telecom law – provides a legal “safe haven” for Internet companies.

THE TEXT: ‘No provider or user of an interactive computer service should be treated as the publisher or speaker of information provided by any other information content provider’

WHAT IT MEANS: Social media platforms are not held legally responsible for what their users post, and are instead seen as an outlet where people can post whatever they want – within the guidelines of their terms of service

In a pre-released testimony, Zuckerberg stated that he was open to Congress to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, suggesting that lawmakers could make “ thoughtful reforms. ”

The law, as it stands, allows Internet companies to be exempt from liability for content that users post.

“Rather than being given immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place to identify and remove illegal content,” said Zuckerberg’s written statement.

“Platforms should not be held liable if a particular piece of content is not detected – that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day – but they should have adequate systems in place to deal with illegal content,” said Facebook. founder added.

He suggested to lawmakers that websites implement systems that are “proportional to platform size and set up by a third party.”

“ That body should work to ensure that the practices are fair and clear for businesses to understand and implement, and that best practices do not include unrelated issues such as encryption or privacy changes that in themselves deserve full debate, ” wrote Zuckerberg too. .

Other parts of his testimony outlined what Facebook did to combat the spread of disinformation on the social media platform, particularly conspiracy theories such as QAnon and anti-vaxxer sentiment that could prevent people from being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have indicated that they want Section 230 to disappear.

The installation blames Facebook, Twitter and Google for the January 6 uprising.  The CEOs will testify before lawmakers about disinformation and online extremism

The installation blames Facebook, Twitter and Google for the January 6 uprising.  The CEOs will testify before lawmakers about disinformation and online extremism

The installation blames Facebook, Twitter and Google for the January 6 uprising. The CEOs will testify before lawmakers about disinformation and online extremism

In January 2020, Biden said, ‘Section 230 should be repealed immediately’ for Facebook and other platforms. It should be withdrawn because it is not just an internet company. It propagates untruths they know are untrue, ‘Biden said of Facebook in an interview with The New York Times

Trump also shared these views, going so far as to veto a giant defense bill in late 2020 to push Congress to change the law.

Trump also objected to the defense bill because it included a provision that gave the DOD the green light to rename bases named after Confederate figures, such as Fort Lee.

According to Trump, Section 230 allowed companies such as Twitter to flag statements he made as false.

In actuality, Section 230 allowed social media to keep Trump’s posts up to date and not be prosecuted.