Facebook, Twitter to present on speech policies at hearing


Tech journalists and some categories of technology investors are interested in new hearings planned for today in front of U.S. legislators, where Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey are expected to weigh in on their companies’ content moderation strategies.


Reuters reports the two will explain to legislative panels new practices of constructing or labeling some types of speech on Facebook and Twitter.


Much of the impetus for this type of new initiative, reporters note, comes from the rash of accusations published by Trump surrogates and allies, as well as some on the left like Glenn Greenwald, related to Joe Biden and Hunter Biden during this month’s very contentious national election.


In general, as Nandita Bose at Reuters describes, Republicans and those on the right are critical of these platforms, and many are characterizing their actions as discriminatory, considering moving on to other platforms like Parler that seem to have looser controls on user speech.


Reading the tea leaves for today’s testimonies, analysts are looking back at hearings in October where Democrats and Republicans ended up at each other’s throats.


“Tuesday’s hearing is expected to be highly political,” Bose writes.


Bose also points out that the American president may be seeking to change long-standing protections for Internet publishers under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.


Here’s what the law says:


“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…”


It’s perhaps unsurprising that an individual known for litigious behavior around libel and slander rules in the print world would want to make Internet publishers liable, but as this goes against years of established policy, it might be difficult to change.


In any case, investors may see today’s hearings uncover details that could change the prices of equities for various social media platforms and the tech companies that own them.