Lawmakers of both parties are assessing the companies’ tremendous power to disseminate speech and ideas, and are looking to challenge their long-enjoyed bedrock legal protections for online speech.
The Trump administration, seizing on unfounded accusations of bias against conservative views, has asked Congress to strip some of the protections that have generally shielded the tech companies from legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms.
“The time has come for that free pass to end,” said Sen. Roger Wicker, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Wicker, R-Miss., said the laws governing online speech must be updated because “the openness and freedom of the internet are under attack.”
He spoke at the opening of the hearing as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai waited to testify via video.
Wicker cited the move this month by Facebook and Twitter to limit dissemination of an unverified political story from the conservative-leaning New York Post about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The story, which was not confirmed by other publications, cited unverified emails from Biden’s son Hunter that were reportedly disclosed by Trump allies.
Republicans led by President Donald Trump have accused the social media platforms, without evidence, of deliberately suppressing conservative, religious and anti-abortion views.
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