Another day, another hours-long Congressional hearing featuring tech CEOs. Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and Sundar Pichai are set to testify at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, where they will face questions about their companies’ handling of misinformation over the past year.
The hearing, officially “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Misinformation and Extremism,” will cover the 2020 election and its aftermath, as well as vaccine misinformation policies, according to statements previously put out by the committee. (Notably, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will, once again, not be testifying. That means Pichai will field questions about YouTube in addition to Google’s broader ad policies and misinformation rules.)
The CEOs are likely to face questions about a range of other issues, too. Zuckerberg and Dorsey will almost certainly be grilled on their decisions to suspend Donald Trump in the days after the Jan. 6, riot at the US Capitol. (Facebook is still awaiting a decision from the Oversight Board on whether the Trump suspension will be permanent.) Zuckerberg will also likely also be asked about Facebook’s handling of incendiary misinformation, QAnon and other extremist groups associated with the “Stop the Steal” movement.
Also on the committee’s agenda: coronavirus misinformation, particularly as it relates to the COVID-19 vaccines. As vaccine availability has increased in recent months, pressure has grown for companies to do more to prevent conspiracy theories from spreading. All three companies have channeled more resources into promoting authoritative info in recent months, but watchdogs have said the platforms aren’t doing enough to weed out disinformation.
Ahead of the hearing, Zuckerberg proposed a “thoughtful reform” of Section 230, the 26-word provision of the Communications Decency Act that protects tech platforms from liability for their users’ actions. The Facebook CEO said that companies should have to adopt moderation practices to detect law-breaking content. Meanwhile, Pichai warned that changing or repealing 230 would have “unintended consequences.”
The hearing kicks off at 12pm ET, when you can watch all the action as it unfolds.