Facebook and Twitter CEOs have fervently opposed changes that would allow the US government to dominate content modulation, saying these platforms are a new and different industry and should have a different administrative model.
Though Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, along with the lawmakers, have agreed on the requirement to make essential changes in the controversial Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, the two social media heads said they aversed any changes that would allow the government to dominate content modulation.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 usually offers immunity for website publishers from third-party content and says no provider or user of a convertible computer service shall be considered as the publisher or speaker of any information imparted by another information content provider.
Section 230 was introduced to allow these technologies to prosper. Earlier, if you could prosecute Twitter or Facebook for content on a Facebook post or a tweet, and they were accountable for what somebody else said or what they felt or did, then the company would have likely never been in reality, Senator Lindsey Graham said during a Congressional hearing.
My hope is that we change section 230 to encourage social media platforms to come up with merits that are explicit and obscure that will allow us to make decisions about their perceptions, that the fact checkers be known, that the community standards, who sets them, what are their bigotries, and give some direction to these companies because they have almost an impossible task, Senator Lindsey Graham added.
He said the social media ogres are faithfully trying to couple in telling what is reliable and what is not based on news commentary or tweets from politicians for average citizens.
Mr. Lindsey Graham said he does not want the government to assume the job of telling America what tweets are licit and what are not. I do not want the government determining what content to take up and put down. I think we are all in that bracket. But when you have companies that have the power of governments, have far more power than conventional media outlets, something has to give, he stressed.
Stating before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which carried a hearing on Censorship and the 2020 Election, Mr. Lindsey Dorsey conceded that there are apprehensions around how Twitter modulates content and peculiarly its use of section 230.
Three weeks ago we suggested three alternatives to address the apprehensions raised, and they all focus on services that determine to modulate or eliminate content. It could be augmentations to section 230, new legislative structures or commitment to industry wide self-regulation best practices, Mr. Lindsey Graham said.
Requiring one modulation process and practices to be published; two, an upfront process to reconsider decisions; and three, best efforts around algorithmic choice are propositions to address the apprehensions we all have going onward. And they are all reachable in short order, Mr. Lindsey Dorsey said.
Answering a question from Mr. Graham, both Mr. Dorsey and Mr. Zuckerberg said that they stand for reforming Section 230 but contrary to government regulation.
Completely removing Section 230 or imposing reactionary government speech mandates will neither tackle apprehensions nor situate with the First Amendment, Mr. Lindsey Dorsey said.
In fact, such actions could have the contrary effect, likely resulting in inflated removal of speech, the growth of waggish lawsuits, and extreme limitations on our collective ability to address harmful content and protect people online, he said.
I think it is not the case that we are like a telco and that there are clearly some categories of content whether it is terrorism or child exploitation that people will demand us to modulate and address but we are also clearly not like a news publisher in that we do not create the content and we do not choose up front what we publish, we give people a voice to be able to publish things, Mr. Zuckerberg asserted.
So I do think that we have duties and it may make sense for there to be liability for some of the content that is on the platform, but I do not think that the resemblance to these other industries that have been created earlier will ever be sort of fully the right way to look at this. I think it deserves its own regulatory framework to get built here, Mr. Zuckerberg said.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said that meaningful rectification of Section 230, including even possible revocation in large part because their privilege is way too broad and victims of their abuse deserve a day in court.