Google, Facebook and Twitter admit to Congress they played a role in the assault on the Capitol
Before the assault on the Capitol and Twitter and Facebook silenced Donald Trump for inciting violence, misinformation about the results of the presidential elections in the United States last November spread like foam on social networks. Almost two months after the attack on the democratic heart of Washington, the heads of the technology giants admitted Thursday that their platforms played a role in the assault on the federal building on January 6 in a virtual appearance before Congress. Republican lawmakers accused employers of “censoring” conservative voices and Democrats warned them that the end of self-regulation has come.
Many of the Trump supporters who gathered in the capital on the day that Congress certified Joe Biden as the winner of the election planned the attack on the Capitol through conversations on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube -of Google-, among other platforms. smaller. The panorama on the internet was that Trump had been talking about an alleged electoral fraud for months and his most extreme followers replied that the Democrats had stolen the elections. This Thursday, the Energy and Commerce Committees of the House of Representatives convened Sundar Pichai, head of Google, Mark Zuckerberg, of Facebook, and Jack Dorsey, of Twitter, to address disinformation and radicalization in their companies.
Democratic Congressman Mike Doyle pressured tech leaders to answer “yes” or “no” about whether their platforms had contributed to the spread of misinformation and planning for the Capitol assault. The three CEOs, of the richest and most powerful men in the world, answered yes. “But you also have to take into account the ecosystem in general. It’s not just about the technology systems we use, ”Dorsey said. After the attack, Twitter and Facebook closed Trump’s account. Asked the head of Twitter on whether it had been his decision, he said that the ultimate responsibility fell on him.
“We are all aware of the growing censorship of conservative voices by big technology,” snapped Congressman Bob Latta, the senior Republican on the Congressional communications and technology subcommittee. Latta attacked the famous Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts companies from responsibility for content posted by their users. Trump was a great critic and Biden, before he came to the White House, also called for it to be revoked.
Google’s Pichai defended the law: “Section 230 allows companies to take decisive action on harmful disinformation and stay up-to-date on bad actors working hard to circumvent certain policies,” said the CEO of the leading internet search engine. . Zuckerberg, for his part, argued that the law should be reformed and allow immunity only to companies that follow good practices to remove harmful content. He also argued that the rules should be different for smaller social networks for “competition” reasons. Dorsey assured that the latter would be very difficult, but that he supported greater transparency and accountability on the part of technology companies.
Republicans also blamed Dorsey for the decision to block the Twitter account of The New York Post after they published an article about Hunter Biden, President Biden’s son, and his business in Ukraine. The businessman acknowledged twice that it was a mistake, but that the action was based on the story citing pirated material. “We had a wrong interpretation,” Dorsey said, adding “we do not write the rules according to any particular political inclination.” “Your own business model has become the problem and the time for self-regulation is over. It is time that we legislate to hold them accountable, ”warned Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee.
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