House Judiciary Committee Examines Social Media Content Filtering Practices

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Facebook, Google and Twitter on Tuesday sought to defend themselves against accusations from Republican lawmakers who say the tech giants censor conservative news and views during a congressional hearing that devolved into a political sniping match. 

Lawmakers had convened the nearly three-hour session before the House Judiciary Committee to explore the “filtering” practices of major social media companies, where a mix of human reviewers and powerful yet secret algorithms review online content — a process meant to stifle offensive speech that even tech giants admit isn’t perfect. But GOP lawmakers led by the panel’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), ultimately focused much of their efforts on highlighting what they perceive as bias against those on the political right — a charge that the tech companies repeatedly denied. The line of questioning enraged committee Democrats, including Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who rebuked Republicans for pushing an “imaginary narrative” of censorship. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) later called it a “dumb hearing.” Many in the party also demanded that Congress focus its time on more pressing issues, including Russia’s efforts to spread disinformation online. For some, that offered an opportunity to assail President Trump. In response, though, tech companies once again sought to stress their neutrality.

Republicans accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of bias. Democrats called the hearing ‘dumb.’ Dems try to end hearing on bias against conservatives in tech (The Hill) Congress pressures tech companies to ban more accounts (Vox) Social media companies defend filtering practices before Congress (Reuters) Republicans press social media giants on anti-conservative 'bias' that Dems call 'nonsense' (USA Today) Sparks fly at hearing on anti-conservative bias in tech (The Hill) Lawmakers Don't Grasp the Sacred Tech Law They Want to Gut (Wired) Lawmakers Question Tech Firms, Publishers on How They Combat Fake News (WSJ)