The chief executive of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, is going to defend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act during his Wednesday testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee, Reuters revealed, citing the manager’s written statement pre-seen by the media.
Dorsey, who was subpoenaed by the Senate at the end of September, alongside the chief executives of Facebook and Alphabet Inc, will reportedly tell the committee that altering the foundations of the act “could collapse how we communicate on the Internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies”.
Section 230 currently stipulates that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider", which effectively releases social media giants from holding responsibility for content generated and shared by their users.
However, the companies are still allowed to remove content on the platforms they find questionable, which, according to US President Donald Trump and some Republican congressmen, leads to bias against conservative outlets and speakers.
In September, a group of prominent Republicans, which included chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham, introduced a bill to modify the section, explaining that the initiative will help to make the platforms’ moderation practices more accountable.
“Social media companies are routinely censoring content that to many, should be considered valid political speech. This reform proposal addresses the concerns of those who feel like their political views are being unfairly suppressed”, Graham said back then.
Twitter has repeatedly found itself in hot water with conservative activists and even the White House, after flagging several tweets of US President Donald Trump.
New Subpoenas Are Released
Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee also approved sending subpoenas to Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg following the platforms’ decision to either flag or entirely ban the links to the New York Post article which alleged that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was part of his son’s Ukraine and China business dealings, something the former vice president previously denied.
Twitter explained its decision to restrict access to the content as being due to its “hacked materials” policy, while Facebook said that the report was subject to third-party fact-checking. Later Twitter lifted its ban on the piece after the report had received widespread media coverage.
According to Republican senators, including Texas lawmaker Ted Cruz, the companies’ decision to limit access to the report signaled not only Twitter and Facebook's “active censorship of a major press publication” but also that they were engaging in “election interference”.
Dorsey and Zuckerberg are expected to appear in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on 17 November, just two weeks after Election Day.