Big Tech Firms Once Again To Be Grilled By US Congress: This Time Over Spreading Misinformation!

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Big tech firms can’t seem to catch a break! Google‘s Sundar Pichai, Jack Dorsey from Twitter and Facebook‘s Mark Zuckerberg are once again all set to appear before the U.S. Congress on Thursday.

But why?

All these companies will be facing the two Senate subcommittees along with the Energy and Commerce Committee over their role in helping spread misinformation online.

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The joint hearing, which will be conducted virtually, was announced in February, right after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capital by organising on social media a few weeks in advance.

The pro-Trump rioters or extremists were supporters belonging to the “Stop The Steal” campaign, which aimed to disqualify the 2020 presidential election on the alleged grounds that it was illegally stolen from the former U.S. President Donald Trump. However, peace prevailed once Joe Biden was sworn into office on January 20th.

Trump himself used his social media platforms to incite his supporters and spread baseless claims about election fraud whilst the U.S. federal building was being stormed on January 6th.

That event served as one of the biggest blows to tech firms and questioned their ability to maintain the integrity of their platforms. And, it also led to attracting more scrutiny on how they operate.

Almost all big tech companies, since the U.S. Capitol siege, went on to make drastic and unprecedented moves. Facebook banned Trump indefinitely while its oversight board is currently looking into the case. Similarly, Twitter which is one of Trump’s favourite platforms also decided to suspend his account permanently and said the decision wouldn’t be altered even if he decides to run for office once again.

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In a blog post, Guy Rosen, Vice President of Integrity at Facebook on Monday, besides mentioning that the company has removed millions of content pieces that contained misinformation related to COVID-19 and vaccines, said that there still remain some who believe Facebook somehow has a financial interest in not curbing misinformation.

He then went on to further say that in reality, the opposite is the truth because Facebook is very much motivated to keep misinformation far away from its family of apps and to do so has taken several steps at the expense of growing its userbase and engagement.

It now remains to be seen how does the hearing dubbed “Disinformation Nation: Social Media’s Role in Promoting Extremism and Misinformation” pans out for the Big Tech firms collectively.

All in all, it is well understood that the regulatory bodies across the entire world have had their patience tested to the brim. They now seek to implement stricture rules for internet companies in order to make sure that the consumers at large remain safe and do not get caught up in the crosshairs of both disinformation and misinformation. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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