Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey will argue their massive social-media platforms merely reflect the views of a badly fractured society when they and Alphabet Inc. CEO Sundar Pichai are scheduled to testify before a House subcommittee on misinformation Thursday.
“Our society is deeply divided, and we see that on our services too,” Zuckerberg will say in an opening statement to the House Committee on Energy & Commerce.
Dorsey, whose company
booted former President Donald Trump off its platform in January, silencing his megaphone to about 89 million followers, said in a written statement: “Quite simply, a trust deficit has been building over the last several years, and it has created uncertainty — here in the United States and globally.”
Thursday’s hearing, the latest in a series on Capitol Hill in recent weeks to address the outsize influence of Big Tech on the economy and American life, come as the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission drill down on investigations of Google
Zuckerberg, Dorsey, and Pichai should expect a bruising reception from both Republicans and Democrats who increasingly are sabre rattling for changes to the ways the largest companies in tech do business.
Zuckerberg, who has become a fixture at congressional hearings, will outline steps the social-networking giant has taken to tap the brakes on misinformation. “We have directed over 2 billion people to our Covid-19 Information Center, and over 140 million people to our Voting Information Center,” he says. “This is an
important component of our work to build a healthier information ecosystem.”
He goes on to point out that political posts account for just 6% of what U.S. users see in their News Feeds, and hateful content accounts for a scant 0.08%. Facebook has invested $100 million to assist local news and journalists and is funding a $1 million grant program to support fact-checkers covering the virus, Zuckerberg added.
“Facebook is successful because people around the world have a deep desire to connect and share, not to stand apart and fight,” Zuckerberg concludes. “This reaffirms our belief that connectivity and togetherness are ultimately more powerful ideals than division and discord — and that technology can be part of the
solution to the deep-seated challenges in our society.”
Twitter’s Dorsey says the company is seeking ways to enhance transparency around how it develops content moderation policies.
“In recent months, for example, there have been increased questions about how we should address policy violations from world leaders,” Dorsey says. “As a result, we are currently re-examining our approach to world leaders and are soliciting feedback from the public. Our feedback period is currently open and our survey
will be available in more than a dozen languages to ensure a global perspective is reflected.”
To that end, the machine learning teams at Twitter are “studying techniques and developing a roadmap to ensure our present and future algorithmic models
uphold a high standard when it comes to transparency and fairness,” he adds.
Twitter is also experimenting with two projects to minimize misinformation: Birdwatch, a pilot program that broadens the range of voices involved in tackling misinformation, and Bluesky, an independent team of open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop open and decentralized standards for social media and ultimately reduce hate speech.
“As we look to the future, I agree with this Committee that technology companies have work to do to earn trust from those who use our services,” Dorsey concludes. “For Twitter, that means tackling transparency, procedural fairness, algorithmic choice, and privacy.”