Jessica Guynn
 
| USA TODAY
Social media CEOs face Senate grillingThe CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are facing a grilling by GOP senators making unfounded allegations that the tech giants show anti-conservative bias. Their focus includes Section 230, a law relating to unfettered internet speech. (Oct. 28)Republicans accused Facebook and Twitter of meddling in the election to harm President Donald Trump by censoring conservatives with warnings on GOP tweets about mail-in balloting. Democrats criticized their failure to rein in Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election  and took aim at their GOP colleagues for putting on a “political sideshow” to browbeat two of the nation’s leading technology CEOs.The bipartisan grilling from lawmakers before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday – the second virtual appearance from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey in less than three weeks – reflected growing and collective ire about “Big Tech.”Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham opened the hearing with a call to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.The Senate Judiciary Committee is moving forward with a bill from Graham and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to reform Section 230, called the EARN IT Act, which would strip away some of the decades-old legal protections that shield tech companies from liability for what users post on their platforms. ‘Techlashing’ on Capitol Hill: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey brace for Senate Judiciary hearingWhy Facebook throttled NY Post article: Facebook throttled Hunter Biden article after being warned by FBI of ‘hack and leak’ operations, Mark Zuckerberg saysGraham challenged Facebook and Twitter’s decision to throttle the spread of a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s business dealings. “You’re the ultimate editor,” he said.Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, also took issue with the way Facebook and Twitter police content.“There are instances in which your platforms are taking a very distinctively partisan approach, and not a neutral one, to election content moderation,” he said.Zuckerberg and Dorsey defended their companies’ policies while expressing their willingness to work with lawmakers to reform Section 230.”We are well overdue,” Zuckerberg said in his opening remarks. “We would benefit from clearer guidance from elected officials.”The broadsides from the left also intensified during Tuesday’s hearing. Blumenthal threatened to break up Facebook by peeling off Instagram and WhatsApp.He also accused Facebook of caving to pressure from conservatives and backing off increased enforcement of dangerous misinformation and voter suppression tactics before two January runoffs in Georgia that will determine who controls the Senate.Trump continues to promote unsubstantiated claims of voting fraud and to contest Joe Biden’s victory on social media. Graham and other Republican lawmakers are backing the president even as federal and state officials declare the election was the most secure in U.S. history.”They are working the refs and they are winning,” Blumenthal said.Researchers have found no evidence that Facebook and Twitter are biased against conservative voices or viewpoints and the companies deny any politically motivated censorship. But Republican lawmakers continue to allege the tech companies suppressed New York Post articles on the business dealings of Biden’s son Hunter in the lead-up to the election.The GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee threatened Dorsey and Zuckerberg with subpoenas if they didn’t appear voluntarily for Tuesday’s hearing. It was originally billed as an indictment of how the companies handled the New York Post coverage of Biden but focused instead more broadly on their handling of the election.


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