Was it fact-checking or censorship? The heads of Facebook and Twitter had to answer some tough questions from senators concerned about how the social media companies handled election information.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday to question Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter's Jack Dorsey.
The committee wanted answers on how the companies acted during the presidential election, and afterward as well. The hearing mainly focused on alleged censorship and suppression related to the 2020 election.
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President Donald Trump and Republicans say the social media companies are biased against conservatives. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said, "It was dismaying to hear my Democrat colleagues today continue their totalitarian calls for #BigTech to silence dissent and censor more voices. That is very dangerous if we want to maintain a free and fair democracy and free speech."
It was dismaying to hear my Democrat colleagues today continue their totalitarian calls for #BigTech to silence dissent and censor more voices. That is very dangerous if we want to maintain a free and fair democracy and free speech. pic.twitter.com/CDwivzcRYJ
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 17, 2020
Cruz directly blasted Twitter's Dorsey saying, "When you label tweets, you’re taking a policy position. When you’re taking a policy position, you’re a publisher, even under current law. You’re entitled to take a policy position, but you don’t get to pretend you’re not a publisher & get #Section230 benefits."
.@jack: When you label tweets, you’re taking a policy position.
When you’re taking a policy position, you’re a publisher, even under current law.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) November 18, 2020
"When it comes time to flag content as being reliable or not reliable, do either one of you believe that the government should do that?" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked during the hearing. "Is that a solution where the government sets a regulatory scheme that talks about what should be up and what should be down?"
"Senator, for certain types of illegal content, I think it may be appropriate for there to be clear rules around that, but outside of clear harms, including things like child exploitation, in areas like that, terrorism, I would agree with your sentiment that that's not something that that government should be deciding on a piece of content by piece of content basis," Zuckerberg responded.
"So if we take the government out of the picture at least in non-criminal areas, should we leave it up to the industry to come up with best business practices?" Graham asked.
"I think that's best," Dorsey replied. "I think we need to align around the problem that we're trying to solve, and there are many solutions to solving those problems, but I think we also have to focus our efforts on what is going to have the greatest impact."
"And we believe that the greatest impact is going to be found in how we deal with algorithms, how we use those algorithms, 'cause they are responsible for showing us what we see or what we don't see," he continued.
"And there needs to be more choice in their use," Dorsey said.
Zuckerberg and Dorsey took a stand for the safeguards they had in place to battle disinformation in the presidential election.
And they promised Congress they would engage in serious action to fight against disinformation in the upcoming two special elections in Georgia.
The stakes are very high in those races because they could determine which party takes control of the Senate.