Senate Commerce Committee grills tech CEOs on content moderation, bias

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday grilled the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google over their respective content moderation practices.

On paper, the hearing was supposed to focus on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That provision shields internet platforms from liability for their moderation practices and content posted by users, and although it allowed the early internet to flourish, it has since come under scrutiny.

After being issued subpoenas, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey all appeared via Zoom call Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Despite the planned focus on Section 230, many senators strayed from the brief and instead asked questions about election interference, antitrust topics, and the alleged censorship of political opinions.

Republicans largely went after the tech executives over the issue of alleged censorship of conservative voices. Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, criticized

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Banned conspiracy channels are suing YouTube over its anti-QAnon moderation push

YouTube is facing a lawsuit from a group of channel owners who say their rights were violated by the platform’s recent moderation actions against QAnon accounts. The users, many of whom boasted hundreds of thousands of followers on the platform, are seeking a temporary restraining order to restore their accounts.



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“YouTube’s massive de-platforming, which occurred just three weeks before the 2020 Presidential election, worked to the severe detriment of both conservative content creators and American voters who seek out their content,” the complaint alleges. “YouTube took this draconian action so swiftly that the Plaintiffs… received no advance notice and were not able to download their own content.”

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Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act typically protects platforms from lawsuits over moderation actions, and the law is likely to be a pillar of YouTube’s legal defense. Republicans have proposed adding a

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Twitter botched its own moderation policies by banning a New York Post story and added fuel to the right’s baseless belief that Big Tech is waging a war against conservatives



a person wearing a blue hat: Activist Mike Merrigan holds a piñata shaped like the Twitter logo with hair to look like U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest outside of Twitter headquarters on May 28, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


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Activist Mike Merrigan holds a piñata shaped like the Twitter logo with hair to look like U.S. President Donald Trump during a protest outside of Twitter headquarters on May 28, 2020 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

  • Twitter earlier this week banned an article published by the New York Post regarding the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
  • The report was based in part on files and emails that the Post said were taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
  • Twitter’s decision to ban a story published by a conservative-leaning publication without explanation seemed to affirm Republicans’ long-held theory that Big Tech is biased against the right.
  • The move undermined what Twitter has said is its mission to implement fair moderation policies and limit disinformation on its platform, especially ahead of one of the most important presidential elections in modern US history.
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