- The CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter will testify in front of Congress on Thursday at noon ET.
- The joint hearing was scheduled to discuss how misinformation spreads on these online platforms.
- Tech firms have faced pressure throughout the pandemic, the 2020 election, and the Capitol siege.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Tech’s biggest figures will once again appear before Congress today.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will face questioning from two Senate subcommittees and the Energy and Commerce Committee – all chaired by Democratic lawmakers – over the companies’ role in the proliferation of misinformation online.
The virtual joint hearing was announced in February, over a month after pro-Trump extremists that stormed the US Capitol were found to have organized on social media platforms weeks in advance. The rioters were supporters of the “Stop the Steal” campaign, which purported that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. President Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20.
Trump himself also used these platforms to spread baseless claims of election fraud. He did so while his supporters were breaching the federal building on January 6.
“For far too long, big tech has failed to acknowledge the role they’ve played in fomenting and elevating blatantly false information to its online audiences,” the committee chairs said in February. “Industry self-regulation has failed. We must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.”
Online social platforms have faced mounting pressure to police false information since the onset of the pandemic, as users were able to spread misleading facts pertaining to COVID-19. That pressure was compounded in the weeks surrounding the 2020 presidential election in November. Zuckerberg and Dorsey testified in front of the Senate that month over how they choose to moderate content on their platforms.
The January 6 storming of the US Capitol was another significant milestone that brought more scrutiny of how tech platforms allow disinformation to spread. Experts told Insider in January that Facebook and Twitter are “indirectly involved” in the US Capitol siege since the platforms’ laissez-faire approach to content moderation gave the far-right a place to congregate for years.
Companies made unprecedented moves following the insurrection – Facebook banned him until at least January 20 and continues to bar him from the site while the company’s “supreme court” considers the case. Twitter, Trump’s longtime favorite mouthpiece, also permanently suspended his account and has said he will remain banned even if he decides to run for office again.
In a Monday blog post, Facebook’s vice president of integrity Guy Rosen said the company has removed millions of pieces of content containing misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines as well as 1.3 billion fake accounts.
“Despite all of these efforts, there are some who believe that we have a financial interest in turning a blind eye to misinformation,” Rosen said in the post. “The opposite is true. We have every motivation to keep misinformation off of our apps and we’ve taken many steps to do so at the expense of user growth and engagement.”