November 29, 2020

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The Senate plans to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify before Congress next month

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A Senate committee is reportedly planning to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google...

  • A Senate committee is reportedly planning to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google if the three executives don’t willingly agree to testify before Congress this week, a Senate spokesperson told Business Insider.
  • The committee is holding a hearing on Oct. 1 that’s meant to address Section 230, a law that shields social media companies from being held liable for the content of users’ posts.
  • Democrats have called for Section 230 to be amended to force social media companies to take a firmer stance to moderate hate speech and misinformation on their platforms, while Republicans — including President Donald Trump — have taken aim at the law over perceived anti-conservative bias.

A Senate committee plans to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter to testify at an Oct. 1 hearing if they don’t willingly agree to testify of their own accord by Thursday, a Senate committee spokesperson told Business Insider.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were asked to testify before the Senate committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by committee chairman Roger Wicker, Republican of Mississippi.

Wicker intends to subpoena the CEOs on Thursday afternoon, the spokesperson told Business Insider, confirming a Thursday morning Politico report regarding Wicker’s plans.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment. Representatives for Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The committee plans to question the CEOs about how their companies are impacted by Section 230, a 1996 law that shields social media companies from being held liable for the content of users’ posts.

President Donald Trump has signaled that the protections should be weakened after Twitter and Facebook applied fact-check labels to his posts that contain misinformation about mail-in voting, which he and other Republicans claim is evidence of anti-conservative bias. The tech companies have repeatedly denied that political bias influences their decisions about how to moderate content.

Republicans have repeatedly claimed that big tech companies silence conservative voices, pointing to fact-checks of Trump’s posts as examples. But data shows that conservative sites and pundits regularly generate content that garner the most interactions of any outlets online.

Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday that his office submitted a draft bill to Congress that would significantly reform Section 230 by “requiring greater transparency and accountability when platforms remove lawful speech.”

Meanwhile, Democrats have also targeted Section 230 because they say it gives tech companies too much leeway when moderating hate speech and misinformation. Former Vice President Joe Biden has said he would work to repeal Section 230 if elected president.

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