US Congress Spars Over Social Media Filtering; Companies Skip Hearing

US Congress Spars Over Social Media Filtering; Companies Skip Hearing

Democrats and Republicans within the US House of Representatives on Thursday sparred over the function of social media platforms Facebook, Google and Twitter in filtering content material after representatives of the tech firms skipped a listening to.

Republicans repeatedly recommended at a House Judiciary Committee listening to that Facebook, Alphabet’s Google and Twitter are censoring or blocking content material from conservatives, a cost the businesses denied.

Lawmakers from each events agreed tech firms should take away unlawful content material like fraud, piracy and intercourse trafficking however differed on whether or not they need to take away objectionable content material.

Representative Robert Goodlatte, a Republican who chairs the committee, mentioned he was “extremely disappointed” the businesses didn’t testify.

Goodlatte mentioned the First Amendment of the US Constitution “offers no clear protections for users when Facebook, Google, or Twitter limits their content in any way.”

Alphabet didn’t reply to requests for remark. Twitter declined to remark, whereas Facebook mentioned it could maintain speaking to Congress about “Facebook’s strong commitment to being a platform for all voices and ideas.”

Goodlatte mentioned “while these companies may have legal, economic, and ideological reasons to manage their content like a traditional media outlet, we must nevertheless weigh as a nation whether the standards they apply endanger our free and open society and its culture of freedom of expression.”

Representative Jerrold Nadler, prime Democrat on the committee, mentioned “the notion that social media companies are filtering out conservative voices is a hoax, a tired narrative of imagined victimhood.”

Nadler added “conservative commentary, including conspiracy theories of a conservative bent, regularly rank among the most far-reaching posts on Facebook and elsewhere.”

The listening to featured a pair of pro-Donald Trump sisters often known as “Diamond and Silk.” Representative Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, testified about Twitter’s choice to dam her from promoting a marketing campaign video the corporate referred to as “inflammatory.” Twitter reversed the choice.

“We need to recognise that the global reach of these companies creates overwhelming pressure against free speech, and we need to do a much better job counteracting that pressure,” Blackburn mentioned.

Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat, mentioned the US authorities mustn’t observe authoritarian practices.

“What makes America great is we get to say stuff and not have the government intervene,” Lieu mentioned. “This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, mentioned “concerns about Facebook’s potential slant are best addressed through other measures, starting with transparency and user empowerment. Ultimately, the best check on Facebook’s power today is the threat of a new Facebook disrupting the company’s dominance.”

© Thomson Reuters 2018

Adapted From: Gadgets360

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