The CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter will today testify before the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Their testimony regards Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has recently come under bipartisan scrutiny. The law protects social media platforms from being classified as publishers of the content posted by their users.
Republican lawmakers claim Section 230 has allowed social media platforms to censor conservative viewpoints, whereas Democratic lawmakers claim it disincentivises the platforms from removing false content. Republicans have drafted a revision classifying social media platforms as “content providers” in the event they curated or influenced content hosted on their platform. Democrats have agreed in principle to this broad expansion of liability.
Expect today’s hearing to include grandstanding on social media’s influence on elections, but to lack any substantive debate on solutions. The proposed changes would force social media companies to strictly moderate all content on their platforms or face endless litigation, making it equally unlikely for attempts to amend the law to persist after November’s elections. Changes to Section 230 would force social media companies to restrict user-generated content and instead stringently curate their platforms, a move that could pose an existential threat to said companies.
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Bilal is the Director of Training and Development. He holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where he extensively researched the US war in Afghanistan. Previously, Bilal has worked independently throughout mainland China as a teacher and as a domestic political communications fellow with Murmuration.