By Jon Swartz
Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey, and Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai will make their cases Wednesday to protect a crucial internet law that protects their social-media sites from being held liable for the content posted by their users. Zuckerberg, however, is open to change.
The trio of tech executives are scheduled to appear via videoconference before the Senate Commerce Committee and face a flurry of questions, especially from Republicans, on their handling of content. Republicans insist there is a bias against conservative values; Democrats counter that social media doesn’t go far enough to tamp down on hate speech and misinformation. Both parties agree something needs to be done about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“Section 230 made it possible for every major internet service to be built and ensured important values like free expression and openness were part of how platforms operate,” Facebook’s (NAS:FB) Zuckerberg is scheduled to say in written testimony, provided to MarketWatch. “Changing it is a significant decision. However, I believe Congress should update the law to make sure it’s working as intended.”
“The debate about Section 230 shows that people of all political persuasions are unhappy with the status quo,” Zuckerberg concludes.
Twitter’s (NYS:TWTR) Dorsey is taking a decidedly more stringent stand. “We should also be mindful that undermining Section 230 will result in far more removal of online speech and impose severe limitations on our collective ability to address harmful content and protect people online,” he will say, according to remarks released by Twitter to MarketWatch.
Alphabet’s (NAS:GOOGL) (NAS:GOOG) Pichai is expected to land somewhere in-between. In prepared remarks, he will warn lawmakers to “be very thoughtful about any changes to Section 230 and to be very aware of the consequences those changes might have on businesses and consumers,” according to testimony provided to MarketWatch.
“Of course, our ability to provide access to a wide range of information is only possible because of existing legal frameworks, like Section 230,” Pichai wrote.
Shares of all three companies improved in Tuesday trading, and were flat after hours.