The giants of Silicon Valley are getting used, or at least should and should, to sitting on the bench, metaphorical and literal, in the United States.
Low intense scrutiny and already with legal actions undertaken against him by monopolistic practices, its oversized power in all public life, social and political has them in the pillory. And a session held this Tuesday at the Senate judicial committee before which they have virtually appeared Mark Zuckerberg y Jack Dorsey, respective parents of Facebook y Twitter, has been the latest evidence of the new hostile climate facing Washington.
Both Republicans and Democrats, though for very different reasons, have censored to the two giants for the content management around the last elections. But in the session four and a half hours It has also been possible to verify the apparent determination in Congress to carry out changes to section 230 from Communications Decency Act of 1996, the legislation that has thus far kept Silicon Valley giants virtually immune.
The problem of misinformation
This Tuesday’s session had been called before the elections by the republicans, in control of the upper house and that habitually (and without conclusive evidence) cry out against what they consider discrimination of conservative voices on social media. He was responding to his outrage at the decision of Twitter and Facebook to temporarily stop or limit the distribution of an article in the tabloid ‘New York Post’ that pointed to the alleged corruption of Joe Biden by actions of his son Hunter.
That episode, which Dorsey has acknowledged was “a error“However, it has remained almost like a storm in a glass of water in front of the serious problem of misinformation that has been, and still is, lived around the US elections, including the one disseminated by the president, Donald Trump, who refuses to accept your defeat or to officially start the transition.
Both Dorsey and Zuckerberg have tried to defend that the management of such disinformation on their platforms has improved compared to the 2016 crisis, when the presidential elections were marked by Russian interference. They have also defended their actions around these elections, including in the case of Twitter tagging with alerts Trump messages with lies about non-existent fraud or about the results, labels that Republicans believe censorship and the Democrats denounce how insufficient. But his explanations do not satisfy one or the other.
It is the Democrats, however, who put their finger on the sore of the most pressing problem: that disinformation is still rampant, in part from the White House and from the Republicans and when a second round for two seats in the United States has yet to be fought. Senate in Georgia that will decide the control of the Chamber and, with it, a good part of political life for the next two years. And they have let Dorsey and Zuckeberg know, the latter also questioned specifically for not stopping the disinformation in Spanish on WhatsApp and for not vetoing Steve Bannon on Facebook despite a message in which Trump’s former adviser called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“The destructive incendiary disinformation It is still a scourge on both platforms, “Senator Richard Blumenthal, the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee, has snapped at them as soon as the session opens. While Corey Booker, the last Democrat to speak, has closed by denouncing that” the president is trying disrupt democracy and one of his favorite weapons is social networks “and he has reminded Zuckerberg and Dorsey that they” have the tools to prevent it. “
Consensus on regulation
The only thing on which there seems to be a consensus between Republicans and Democrats is that the time to put a stop to the excessive power that Big Tech has reached, which can hardly continue to be defined as a mere social tool and not one of content generation. And in both parties promises of more transparency are no longer enough or the willingness to have more control of the algorithms, which the heads of Facebook and Twitter have also reiterated this Tuesday.
“When you have companies that have the power of the government… Something has to happen, “said Senator Lindsey Graham, the Republican who chairs the judicial committee (now peppered with accusations of trying to pressure Georgia’s secretary of state, also a Republican, not to count legal mail ballots. that have contributed to Biden’s victory in the state.) And Blumenthal also sees the time for regulation coming: “They have built terrifying tools of persuasion and manipulation with power far exceeding that of the robber barons from the last Gilded Age, “he said.