‘Censorship teams’ vs. ‘working the refs’: today moments with tech CEOs

 Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey returned to Capitol Hill on Tuesday — virtually, of course — for their latest hourslong grilling from lawmakers angry at alleged abuses by Silicon Valley.

But it quickly became clear the lawmakers themselves remain deeply divided on how the companies should handle political speech.

Republicans once again largely focused on accusations that big social media companies systematically censor conservatives, with Exhibit A being efforts by Facebook and Twitter to limit the spread of the New York Post's preelection reporting on President-elect Joe Biden's son Hunter. Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) also raised concerns about whether the tech giants design their platforms to be "addicting" to users.

Democrats, meanwhile, said the companies continue to let their platforms propagate falsehoods — including President Donald Trump's claims to have won reelection. And they raised a host of other concerns, including over allegations that tech giants stifle competitors and that the two companies have abused consumers' personal data.

These are some key moments during Tuesday's Judiciary hearing, which was Zuckerberg's third congressional appearance since July:

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) implored the social media giants not to buckle to Republicans' accusations of bias, arguing that conservatives are the ones with an outsize presence on the platforms.

“The fact of the matter is that these allegations are completely baseless,” Hirono said. “This hearing is a transparent effort by my Republican colleagues to work the refs.”

Hirono cited conservative pundit Dan Bongino, whose Facebook page has millions of followers and frequently ranks among the top on the network's engagement charts, as well as other efforts the company has made to appeal to right-leaning users.

“I'm really wondering at what point you will stop giving in to baseless claims of anti-conservative bias and start exercising your control over Facebook to stop driving division,” Hirono said.

She also questioned Facebook's and Twitter’s recent efforts to label potentially misleading content and direct people to third-party fact-checkers, noting that it has done little to deter Trump from lobbing baseless accusations of voter fraud.

Zuckerberg similarly said Facebook's goal is to “make sure that people have reliable information about the election.”

Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee ripped into Facebook for appending a fact-checking note to a recent post of his about the integrity of this year’s election, calling it an example of the overbearing policies that have fueled suspicions of social media bias against conservatives.

‘Censorship teams’ vs. ‘working the refs’: today moments with tech CEOs ‘Censorship teams’ vs. ‘working the refs’: today moments with tech CEOs Reviewed by Anson Moore on November 18, 2020 Rating: 5

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