Facebook, Twitter heads testify before US Senate: Live

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Facebook, Twitter heads testify before US Senate: Live

    Facebook and Twitter CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on their handling of election disinformation. President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have accused the social media companies of anti-conservative bias in their labelling of misinformation. Many prominent Republican Senators have backed Trump’s baseless claims of widespread election fraud and voting irregularities, including committee chair Lindsey Graham. Both parties, for different reasons, have supported stripping away some of the protections tech companies have from legal responsibility for what users post on their platforms.

Welcome to our live coverage of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. This is Joseph Stepansky.

9 mins ago (15:37 GMT)

Democratic, Republican Editors lay out different visions of hearing

Republican committee chairman Graham opened Tuesday’s hearing suggesting that Facebook and Twitter displayed bias in their labeling of posts and Tweets, claiming the same standards are not enforced for other international leaders.

Graham particularly noted Twitter and Facebook’s decisions to suppress a controversial New York Post article on Hunter Biden, the provenance of which has been questioned. “That to me seems like you’re the ultimate editor,” Graham said. “The editorial decision at the New York Post to run the story was overwritten by Twitter and Facebook in different fashions.”

In contrast, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said the steps taken by Twitter and Facebook to combat minsinformation and hate speech as only been “baby steps”.

While he said there were important issues to discuss in regard to those topics, Blumenthal added he was concerned Tuesday’s hearing would be a “political sideshow” for Republicans to “bully” the tech CEOs.

Senator Lindsey Graham takes his seat before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter’s actions around the closely contested election [Bill Clark/The Associated Press]

1 hour ago (14:39 GMT)

Election expected to be focus of hearing

The Republican majority on the judiciary panel threatened Zuckerberg and Dorsey with subpoenas last month if they did not agree to voluntarily testify for Tuesday’s hearing.

Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee lambasted the two CEOs and Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, at a hearing last month for what they said was a pattern of silencing conservative viewpoints while giving free rein to political actors from countries like China and Iran.

There is no evidence that the social media giants are biased against conservative news, posts or other material, or that they favour one side of political debate over another, researchers have found. But criticism of the companies’ policies, and their handling of disinformation tied to the election, has come from Democrats as well as Republicans.

For Republicans, that criticism has focused on a series of posts and tweets from President Donald Trump that the social media sites have labelled as false or misleading, including false claims of victory in the election or unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. Democrats have focused their criticism mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content that can incite violence, keep people from voting or spread falsehoods about the coronavirus.