The U.S. lawmakers want to know more about how Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. works Many congressional hearings were held on the misinformation and election interference through social media. Those hearings first featured Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. In those hearings, the companies committed to providing more information about how their automated systems work to sort and block content on their networks.
During the solo testimony, Dorsey mentioned that a lot of confusion resides around their rules and their enforcement. He also mentioned that they are subject to clear those confusions.
Facebook and Twitter have expanded over years and drawn huge audiences by providing open forums for debate and expressions. But, the main factors for their revenue are ad-targeting and data-collection practices. They are trying to become more open and transparent to satisfy lawmakers’ demands. For this, they commit to solving the problems that are reasons for the necessity of such hearings.
The companies have already faced many of Wednesday’s questions. But, several new questions raised. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee wanted to know why the companies won’t let users know when they’re talking to a bot.
Also, they wanted to know more about how the algorithms work, and why some content gets removed while other posts stay up. Such lawmakers also mentioned human moderators used by the companies, their processes for collaborating with others, and the clear definition of abuse and fairness.
Twitter and Facebook at Hearing:
CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to face 10 hours of testimony in April. So, Facebook is more familiar to answer such questions. For this, Sandberg explained that the company has hired thousands of employees for improving its security procedures. For the content discrimination, she agreed with the senators for finding the worst content hosted on Facebook. She also mentioned that discriminatory advertising and ads that discourage people from voting has no place on Facebook.
Dorsey was a little unclear with his answers. But, he was more willing to make his company engaged in improving itself and tackling serious problems.
Dorsey didn’t want to mention bots as a problem because it is easy to program an account to act like a human. Twitter wants to improve itself in taking down violent or illegal posts. It also wants to remove the burden from the victims of hate speech or harassment.
Dorsey’s talk of “massive shifts” made Twitter’s share price fall massively. It fell 6 percent to $32.73 on Wednesday. With this, Facebook also fell 2.3 percent to $167.18.
The company finds it difficult to comply with the bots. So, Dorsey wanted to have conversations with lawmakers on some regulations. For Twitter, this may also be the reason for the tumbling of shares.
Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia suggested a way to tackle posts and ads related to drug dealing. Social media platforms are filled with countless ads and posts, which held them legally liable for the content on their platform. Yet Dorsey wanted to discuss it more.
The companies believe that they are unclear about how the government could enforce open debate on the platforms. According to U.S. President Donald Trump, the government should take vague action over the censorship of conservatives by social media platforms. Both Sandberg and Dorsey rejected the argument. But, the dismissal of the argument was the main theme for several lawmakers.
Dorsey faced many challenges with questions and speeches. Yet he managed to explain how the company is trying to solve its problems. He was also asked about the number of people he employs to moderate the content. For this, he said that they don’t consider this problem in terms of a number of people.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Representative Greg Walden mentioned that they won’t get more clear about the things going on.
Google was absent at the morning hearing. The Senate panel invited Larry Page, but Google sent its chief legal officer. So, the committee rejected this proposal. Senator Mark Warner believes that the absence of Google is going to hurt their own reputation at the end of the day.