Another day, another several-hour congressional hearing with tech CEOs. Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai are set to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, where they will face questions about their companies’ handling of disinformation during of the past year.
The hearing, officially “Nation of Disinformation: The Role of Social Media in Promoting Disinformation and Extremism,” will cover the 2020 election and its aftermath, as well as disinformation policies on vaccines, according to reports. statements previously issued by the committee. (Notably, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will, once again, do not testify. This means that Pichai will answer questions on YouTube in addition to Google’s broader advertising policies and disinformation rules.)
CEOs are also likely to face questions on a range of other issues. Zuckerberg and Dorsey will almost certainly be toasted on their decisions To suspend Donald Trump in the days following the January 6 riot on the Capitol. (Facebook is still waiting a decision Zuckerberg will also likely be asked about Facebook’s handling of inflammatory disinformation, QAnon and other extremist groups associated with the “Stop the Steal” movement.
Also on the committee’s agenda: disinformation on coronaviruses, especially with regard to COVID-19 vaccines. As vaccine availability has increased in recent months, pressure has grown for companies to do more to prevent the spread of conspiracy theories. All three companies have funneled more resources to promote authoritative news in recent months, but watch dogs said the platforms were not doing enough to eliminate disinformation.
Ahead of the hearing, Zuckerberg proposed a “thoughtful reform” to section 230, the 26 word layout of the Communications Decency Act which protects technological platforms from all liability for the actions of their users. The CEO of Facebook said companies should adopt moderation practices to detect content that does not comply with the law. Meanwhile, Pichai warned that amending or repealing 230 would have “unintended consequences.”
Audience begins at 12 p.m. ET, when you can watch all of the action as it unfolds.