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Tech Hearing: Social Media CEOs Come Under Senate Scrutiny

Tech Hearing: Social Media CEOs Come Under Senate Scrutiny

By Ryan Tracy and John D. McKinnon
Updated Oct. 28, 2020 11:02 am ET WSJ

WASHINGTON—Chief executives of the largest social-media companies testified Wednesday before the Senate Commerce Committee in a hearing examining their platforms’ role in shaping political discourse.

Appearing via video streaming before the panel—less than a week before Election Day—were Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter Inc. Chief Executive Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and YouTube owner Alphabet Inc.

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Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), the panel’s chairman, opened the hearing by accusing the companies of censoring conservative views—a charge the executives dispute. He decried what he said are unintended consequences of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, a law that gives online companies broad immunity from legal liability for user-generated content and wide latitude to control what does or doesn’t appear on their platforms.

Mr. Wicker said the liability shield has protected companies from “potentially ruinous lawsuits. But it has also given these internet platforms the ability to control, stifle and even censor content in whatever manner meets their respective ‘standards.’ The time has come for that free pass to end.”

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