Facebook, Google Testimony: ‘Immunity From Liability If…’ Before Facing Congress
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out steps to reform a key internet law on Wednesday, saying that companies should have immunity from liability as long as they follow best practices for removing damaging material from their platforms.
In testimony prepared for a joint hearing before two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees on Thursday, Zuckerberg acknowledged the calls from lawmakers for changes to a law called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides companies like Facebook, Twitter and so on are immunity from liability over content posted by users.
The hearing titled ‘Disinformation Nation: Social media’s role in promoting extremism and misinformation is meant to deal with concerns Democrats have had about the spread of misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic and therefore the presidential election.
It is also likely to debate ways to carry tech platforms accountable by reforming the internet law. The CEO of Google and Twitter will also be testifying at the hearing.
Google’s Sundar Pichai will make suggestions to reform the law but, unlike Zuckerberg, won’t advocate for the adoption of a group of best practices, consistent with his testimony. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey will lay out steps the platform has taken to tackle misinformation.
Zuckerberg and Pichai also will urge caution as Congress considers reforming the law.
“Platforms should not be held liable if a particular piece of content evades its detection — that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day,” Zuckerberg wrote in his testimony.
Google’s Pichai also struck an identical note saying “without Section 230, platforms would either over-filter content or not be able to filter content at all.”
Pichai instead proposed solutions like developing content policies that are clear and accessible, notifying people when their content is removed, and giving them ways to appeal content decisions.
There are several pieces of legislation from Democrats to reform Section 230 that do the rounds in Congress. Several Republican lawmakers have also been pushing separately to scrap the law entirely.