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Facebook and Twitter chart out different paths for Congress on internet regulation

November 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is seen testifying remotely via videoconference as U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing titled, "Breaking the News: Censorship, Suppression, and the 2020 Election,??? on Facebook and Twitter's content moderation practices, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/Pool

In a Senate hearing on Tuesday that stretched on for more than four hours, the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter sought to recalibrate their relationship with Congress, apologizing for past mistakes while trying to set the tone for future regulation of their industry that's expected to see a bigger push in 2021.

A broader theme of the hearing was to establish what responsibilities tech companies should have for moderating content, and what role the US government should play — a critical question that will inform a legislative effort on online content next year, once a new Congress is sworn in.

Laying down baseline expectations for the outcome of that effort, leading members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said they did not think it's appropriate for the US government to get directly involved in online content moderation.

But Blumenthal indicated that he wants private citizens to be able to sue tech platforms for harms they've suffered as a result of the companies' handling of content, something they can't do now under Section 230 of the Communications Act, the signature US law that grants tech platforms legal immunity for many of their content decisions.

Much of the content that violates Facebook's policies is caught by automated algorithms before anyone sees it, Zuckerberg said, and that the company is continually working to improve its algorithms.

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