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Zuckerberg says some of Facebook's issues 'would be better made through a democratic process'

The hearing will address bias and censorship at Big Tech companies

Updated: November 17, 2020 - 3:52pm

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday titled "Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg -- a recent Capitol Hill fixture -- told the committee that his company often must decide between "difficult trade-offs" when it comes to content moderation, and that he believes "some of these trade-offs would be better made through a democratic process."

Later in the hearing, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey discussed the mistake his company made in deciding to censor a New York Post article about Hunter Biden days before the presidential election in which his father was competing. 

"We made a quick interpretation, using no other evidence, that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking and, according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread," said Dorsey. "Upon further consideration, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours."

However, the NY Post's account remained locked for use until the paper deleted its initial tweet about the Hunter Biden story. 

"We did not have a practice around retroactively overturning private enforcements … so we created one we believe is fair and appropriate. I hope this illustrates the rationale behind our actions and demonstrates our ability to take feedback, admit mistakes and make changes," said Dorsey.

The Republican-led committee, chaired by recently re-elected Senator Lindsey Graham will question CEOs Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter about their platforms' practices as they pertain to the dissemination of political information, especially in the days leading up to the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

Dorsey and Zuckerberg were summoned to testify before the committee in October, when their respective platforms individually censored a New York Post story about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden.

They return amid a flurry of post-election lawsuits alleging widespread voter fraud and election malpractice and questions about why Twitter and Facebook consistently labeled tweets from President Trump and his supporters "misinformation." 

Since the election, nearly 50% of Trump's tweets have been labeled or censored entirely. 

Zuckerberg and Dorsey recently testified before the same committee during a recent hearing on Section 230, part of a federal communications law that protects internet provide from liability for third-party content. 

Thus far, little action has been taken by the Senate based on the results of their findings or the statements of the CEOs. 

Zuckerberg and Dorsey will face questions today about the fact-checking labels and standards their companies applied during and after the election cycle. The companies said during the election cycle that they were taking unprecedented steps to limit the spread of misinformation during the 2020 election cycle.

Republicans on the Judiciary committee – including Sens. Ted Cruz  of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have accused Big Tech companies of taking their practices too far in censoring what they believe to be false information, arguing that their practices amount to the censorship and suppression of differing viewpoints. 

Committee Democrats have argued the companies have not done enough to stop the spread of false information.

 

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