October 27, 2020
On Wednesday, the leaders of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will testify on Capitol Hill in front of a subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee. Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Jack Dorsey will all face questions over their companies' use of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from being held legally accountable for content published by their users.
"One of the things I think they need to hear from us that we are fully aware that the American people no longer trust big tech," Committee member Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) told Cheddar.
Blackburn has proposed several changes to clarify and modify Section 230, which has been a subject of controversy since the president's executive order in May. That executive order came after Twitter flagged one of the president's tweets for being misleading and called for the FCC to regulate online censorship.
"We would be more specific on who can use the liability protections in 230, how it can be applied, and when it can be applied," said Blackburn. Her changes would also specify who qualifies as a "content creator" and would aim to protect those users, rather than the platforms.
Despite bipartisan agreement that Section 230 needs reform, Democrats and Republicans do not agree on just how to change it. The Democrats aren't on board with the GOP bill that would reign in a company's ability to flag and censor misinformation.
The tech industry, for its part, has said any changes to Section 230 would effectively end free speech online. They argue that without the protection it offers, platforms actually would have to take a stricter approach to flagging, fact-checking, and censoring.