CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today participated virtually in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing entitled “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?” During the hearing, Senator Capito and Committee members heard from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
The hearing examined legislative proposals to modernize the decades-old law, increase transparency and accountability among big technology companies for their content moderation practices, and explore the impact of large ad-tech platforms on local journalism and consumer privacy. The hearing also provided an opportunity to discuss the unintended consequences of Section 230’s liability shield and how best to preserve the internet as a forum for open discourse.
Last week, Senator Capito spoke directly with Mark Zuckerberg about these issues, as well as broadband deployment in West Virginia. As a result of Senator Capito’s consistent efforts, Facebook has begun building fiber optic cable across the state to connect data centers in Columbus, Ohio and Ashburn, Virginia. Click here for more details.
ON CONTENT MODERATION: “The topic today is on objectionable content and how you make those judgements…In Section 230, the term is ‘objectionable content or otherwise objectionable.’ Would you be in favor of redefining that more specifically? That’s awful broad, and that’s where I think many of these questions become very difficult to answer.”
ON SECTION 230 HELPING SMALL COMPANIES: “You’ve expressed the need to have Section 230 protections because of the protections that it gives to small innovators. Well you sit in front of us and I think all of us are wondering how many small innovators are there and what kind of market share could they possibly have when we see the dominance of the three of you? … How can a small innovator really break through and what does Section 230 really have to do with that ability? I’m skeptical on the argument, quite frankly.”
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider” (47 U.S.C. § 230). In other words, online platforms such as Facebook or Twitter are not liable for publishing third-party content. While there are important exceptions, Section 230 gives broad protection, allowing online free speech to thrive.
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