Big tech is back on the virtual hill.
Three of tech’s most prominent CEOs will appear before the House Energy and Commerce committee today at 9 a.m. PT as lawmakers grill the companies on their failure to contain disinformation and extremism.
In opening statements made available before the hearing, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai each laid out the conversation they’d prefer to have.
Zuckerberg pushed for reforms to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that wouldn’t resolve the issues at hand, but would probably give Facebook another leg up on smaller competitors. Google defended Section 230 and pointed to its own often mild or delayed efforts to contain election misinformation that ultimately snowballed into the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Twitter mostly looked forward rather than back, pointing to initiatives to make its own algorithms transparent and to invite more community-level moderation efforts.
The topic at hand Thursday is a big one, and there are plenty of directions lawmakers might take the hearing. In recent months, the two subcommittees leading the joint hearing have questioned Facebook about its algorithmic group recommendations — a frequent concern among extremism experts — and reports that the company served combat gear ads next to posts promoting the Capitol riot. More broadly, the committee will delve into social media’s role in disseminating dangerous misinformation, but it’s possible we’ll take detours through some regulatory solutions like antitrust legislation and Section 230 reform along the way.
If you’d like to follow along, we’ve embedded the hearing above or you can check back for other coverage as we go.