I wonder how different this conversation would be going if Twitter and Facebook were censoring Democrats and the far left. I’m betting they wouldn’t be calling for MORE censorship if that was the case.
Be careful what you wish for.
This is a hearing summary according to my interpretation. I’m not saying my interpretation is correct, or even accurate, but I will try my best to remain fair to both sides of the argument as I feel it’s important for people to start looking at all sides of an issue, not just their side.
I would highly recommend that you watch the entire hearing and LISTEN to both sides. What are their arguments? What are their proposals? What is the evidence to back up their claims? Are they speaking factually or emotionally? However, I get it. It’s dry and it’s four hours long. So I watched it so you didn’t have to.
All. Four. Hours. Of. It. (Not all at once – took me two days to get through it all).
You’re welcome. 🙂
But again, this is my interpretation and you can’t assume my interpretation, or opinion, is the same as yours. Again, I would encourage you to watch it and form your own opinion.
I think we as American citizens need to start training our brains to LISTEN to all sides of an issue so that we have all the information we need to form our own opinions. That way, we are making decisions, moving forward, based on facts and intentions, not emotion. Emotions are fleeting, facts are forever. It’s time to recognize and acknowledge that fact.
That is the goal of our podcast, as well.
Let’s get started:
Senator Graham – I appreciated his comments. He strove to be fair to Facebook and Twitter by explaining that their platforms have been good, overall. That they have served to bring people together and give them a platform to voice their opinions, thoughts, goals, etc. However, it appears they have gotten out of control, whether intentionally or not, and that they do not have the right to censor what groups of people can, and can not say. This applies to both sides, not just one side. They do not have the right to censor the left, they do not have the right to censor the right. And whether their intentions to do so is unclear. It might simply be they struggled to control something too massive to control. And this is where the hearing comes into play. It’s time to call a halt to the “fact checking” and “false claims” and silence groups of people that dare to disagree with the platforms goals, thoughts, agendas, or special interests groups that donate large sums of cash to the platforms. Senator Graham is hoping that this hearing will modify business practices so that decisions moving forward are transparent and fair to all points of view.
Senator Blumenthal – He opens his turn by cautioning the American people about the dangers of President Trump using social media by posting lies and incendiary rhetoric. I sort of agree with this. There have been time when President Trump has tweeted something and I actually cringe in response. Though I understand the message he’s trying to convey, the way he says it is off putting and awkward. And in a world where people do not bother to read between the lines but take everything at face value, it’s counterproductive. However, the reason he even posts on Twitter is because he can’t trust the MSM (Main stream media) to accurately report what he’s saying. They take snippets from what he’s saying and thread them together to make it sound like something completely different. They routinely cut him off and do not allow him to fully flesh out his thoughts before jumping in to “argue” with him and “fact check” him when that is not the duty of the press. They exist to provide a platform to the American people and to report on the news, not opine their biases. Sure. they can offer opinions and predictions, i.e. talking points, but to not allow the full message to get to the American people is disingenuous and dishonest. Senator Blumenthal acknowledges that, after getting his hatred for Trump out of the way, that Twitter and Facebook have become too big and something must be done with the power they find themselves wielding. He also points out that Google is absent from the hearing, “they were given a pass and rewarded for their timidity.” Ah, but then he goes on to say that what they are doing is not censorship but it’s their “moral and civic responsibility” to stop the flow of hate. No sir, I disagree. That is NOT Twitter and Facebook’s responsibility. That is the responsibility of the user to block or delete that rhetoric. It’s hateful and vile but the authors of that have just as much right to post it as I do posting this blog post. And that’s the fundamental difference between the left and the right.
Dorsey and Zuckerberg’s opening statements – Dorsey’s was decent. He expressed what I think was a genuine desire to do the right thing. He struck me as a man who is over his head and is floundering trying to figure out how to please everyone.
Zuckerberg, however, fairly admitted that they took actions to suppress “hateful” groups and praised their efforts and decisions. He even went so far as to say “this is what people expect from us.” He went on to tout their efforts to promote registering to vote and to provide information for people to learn more about various political races around the country. I would be interested in knowing how that information provided was divided – was there more democrat links than republican? I suppose it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something to consider. Then he basically tooted his own horn to say that he and his wife donated large sums of money to political candidates to “ensure they had the political platform needed for their campaign.” Again, great for you. But what does that have to do with Facebook’s platform? Nothing. It was said to imply “gee, look at me guys. I’m actually a good guy. I give back so don’t be too hard on me.” He goes on to agree that we should update Internet regulations such as privacy, content, data portability. But then he goes on to say, “who should be responsible for what people say online?” That is where he lost me. It’s not YOUR job, Zuckerberg, or your platforms job, to decide what may, or may not be said online. I get there are certain topics and situations that that might be warranted, calls to violence, child sexual exploitations and other heinous topics, but it is NOT the platforms job to decide on what normal Janes and Joes say or the opinions they express.
Blumenthal then asks both Dorsey and Zuckerberg to do MORE to “fact check” and “disallow” false information for the special election in Georgia that could decide on the majority party depending on results. In his opinion, they need to do MORE. Well of course he would say that because Facebook and Twitter were so successful at suppressing opposing views for the presidential election, he would want them to continue doing what they are doing to try and suppress information from Georgia voters. How disgusting that he’s openly calling for MORE dishonesty, but let’s face it, is anyone surprised by this? I guess I’m more disappointed than anything else.
Senator Cornyn – The Internet has outgrown section 230 and he’s relieved to hear Dorsey and Zuckerberg are willing to discuss ways to improve it. Some committee members have proposed a private right of action so that individuals have the ability to sue the companies for suppressing their opinions. Though I’m all for giving individuals rights to protect their speech and the companies need some accountability, I fear allowing individuals to sue would be counter productive. I could see people posting speech they do not necessarily agree to all in order to sue the companies and make some quick dough. I’m not saying it would be EASY to sue the companies over any little thing, but it would open an avenue for constant litigation. It’s hard to classify Twitter and Facebook’s business model as they don’t really fall into a clear-cut category. He feels they should allow more speech and not less as more speech leads to more conversations and information. I would agree with this. The more information you have, the better you can make an informed decision. It would soon become apparent who spouts nonsense and who spouts thoughtful opinions but again, it would be up to the user to weed out that information and make his/her own decision on something. It’s not the right of Twitter or Facebook to make that decision for us.
Senator Feinstein – She asks show soon after the tweet goes online does Twitter label, or “fact check” the tweet? I’m not sure why she is interested in the time frame of this. What difference does that make? The point is, they ARE being labeled and the fact that they are being labeled at all is the point of this hearing. However, to be completely fair to Dorsey and Twitter, I understand why they would feel compelled to label these tweets providing a link to more information. They want to give people an opportunity to learn more about the situation themselves as opposed to taking someone’s word for it. However, who decides where to send these people who are seeking more information? And are they being directed to impartial news or to a pre-determined news source that only serves to further a specific agenda? Feinstein is concerned that opposing viewpoints will “stir people up,” which in essence implies that she does not want people to be given information that will potentially make them think something other than what her party wants them to think. She wants to control what information is given so they are ensured to get the response of want. I find that highly objectionable because it implies that want people to only be given the information they want to provide. How insulting to thinking people of any party. Feinstein’s bottom line – she wants the tech companies to do MORE. I wonder if she would feel that way if the tech companies were favoring Republican comments and “fact checking” the Democrat comments. I’m betting no. A “Stop the Steal” movement cropped up on Facebook shortly after the media declared Joe Biden the winner. Feinstein is concerned that this movement provoked violence because some members of this movement showed up to rallies armed with guns. Senator Feinstein, gun protection is still legal in this country, no matter how much you wished it weren’t so they have a right to carry and bear arms (provided they have the correct documentation). Also, they likely showed up to these rallies not to provoke violence because have there been any examples of people rioting, looting or burning anything down since the media crowned themselves kings and queens and announced Biden the winner even though it’s not official yet, but to protect themselves against the BLM movement that has repeatedly been showcased to attack Trump providers. The fact that this movement exists to begin with, and that thousands of people agreed and joined this movement irks Senator Feinstein because again, they are not playing by the rules of THEIR game.
Senator Lee – He provides examples of “hateful” tweets that caused the account to be suspended to Dorsey to ask him exactly how it was hateful. Dorsey admitted the tweet in question was flagged in error and that the account should not have been suspended. However, to be fair to Dorsey, he’s not personally responsible for his program or algorithms. However, it does serve to showcase what is wrong with the algorithms and to correct their computations. Senator Lee points out that those these “mistakes” are eventually caught and he appreciates Dorsey and Zuckerberg acknowledging these mistakes, it’s a fact that 93% of Facebook staff donated to Democrat candidates and 99% of Twitter staff donated to Democrat candidates so it warrants a closer look at these “mistakes” since most of these “mistakes” happen primarily against Republican voters and ads that dare to implicate Democrats of any wrong doing. Seems like a pretty big “coincidence.” Senator Lee requested a list of people that have had their content removed or accounts that have been suspended sent to him for review. Of course, he’s trying to prove that the majority of accounts that have been compromised comprise mainly of right-leaning voters. I’d like to know what those lists look like, too. He also pointed out one of his own posts on Facebook getting flagged and he talks about how that may be construed as false information in Palo Alto, which is where Facebook headquarters is located, I presume, but it’s not false information to the rest of America. He is implying that Facebook operates within their own bubble of self interest and really has no interest in anything outside their bubble of self awareness. He states he’s finding it harder to believe that these “mistakes” and imperfect algorithms not not intentional.
Senator Leahy – As expected, he calls on Twitter and Facebook to do a better job of censoring “hateful” and misleading information. Again, I’m quite confident he would not have this opinion if the information that was being censored was mostly Democrat-related issues. He claims that President Trump is the leader in giving false information. I would like some examples of this, please. What exactly has he said that was patently false or misleading? Does he come across as egotistical and an ass sometimes? Yes, yes he does. But what information has he given to the American people that has been false? They, the left, has said, over and over again that he continues to do this and has done this throughout his presidency and yet, no one can give any specific examples. I think that is where we, as the people, need to start holding feet to the fire and demanding they start providing specific examples of these claims instead of blindly accepting their “truth” about this. He brings up the claims that Trump makes about the election being rigged and that there is election fraud. What do you think these hundreds of sworn affidavits that people have submitted and initial investigation into the Dominion software used in many states country-wide that have shown discrepancies is about?? The fact that we even HAVE these questions should be the bare minimum reason to investigate. I would have this same opinion if Biden made these claims. Because this goes way beyond this election, it sets a precedent for upcoming elections as well. We MUST investigate these claims if we hope to have any kind of fair election in the future. Because if these claims are true and we continue down the path we’re on now, the voter is deemed obsolete. Why vote when the flawed system will provide the candidate of the crooked party time and time again? So. Trump’s claims may be upsetting to many who don’t want him in the office four more years, but again, it’s not all about YOU. It’s about a fair election that the PEOPLE choose. He brings up calls to behead Dr. Fauci and the director for the FBI. Yes. That’s disturbing and that hateful rhetoric has no place on these platforms. And I will go on to say that allowing Madonna to post that she wants to blow up the White House and to allow Kathy Griffith to post a picture of herself holding up a bloody, severed head of President Trump should not be allowed either. Again, these rules need to be applied ACROSS THE SPECTRUM. Not just to one particular party. He brings up a good point – though these platforms are successful in taking down hateful content, the user just goes and makes new accounts. I don’t know what the platforms have any control over this and I’m sure that stuff happens all the time and becomes a full-time job for someone to monitor. But that kind of thing is the small price we pay to retain our freedoms of speech. He says that this hateful rhetoric results in “systematic genocides’.” Really. That’s a pretty hefty and serious claim. What are you examples, sir?
Senator Cruz – He calls senate Democrats out for wanting more. This is a dangerous road to travel if we want to maintain a free democracy and free speech. Twitter and Facebook “exercises massive power while also enjoys massive corporate welfare through effect of section 230 with special immunity.” He goes on to ask the owners if their corporation is a publisher. He grilled Dorsey asking him if his company is acting like a publisher if they are deleting and editing content. He goes on to use an example of an account that was locked. Dorsey said their account wasn’t suspended and once the “offending” tweet was deleted, they got their account back. “Once we have silenced you, you may allowed to resume to speak.” This is such a dangerous road to travel. He calls Dorsey to commit, in writing, a list of all of the Republican candidates and support teams how many times they have been blocked or labeled on the platform. After all, Dorsey claims to want to “embrace transparency” so now would be a good time to put his money where his mouth is. Dorsey speaks about committing to looking at the “broader” picture, in essence, he answers no. Zuckerberg says yes, he will see if he has that data. In other words, gentleman, proof is in the pudding. I appreciate Senator Cruz asking for hard proof that the platforms have been biased to Republican candidates and issues and if he actually gets this data, I think it will add credibility to the censorship claims. We’ll see how serious these companies are about “transparency.”
Senator Durbin – He starts off his time by softly chastising the people who called the committee stating that their time would be better spent on COVID, the re-counts and other various topics – spending time on “alleged” censorship is a waste of time. Well of course he would think that, because they are not censoring HIM. He talks about Facebook taking down hate speech groups, such as white supremist. I agree. There is no place, on any platform for hate speech groups, period. However, I would also like to point out, this same rule applies to Antifa and BLM, both groups that have increasingly become more and more violent and tout hateful speech as well. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. Again. Be fair to ALL groups, Senator Durbin.
Senator Sasse – He brought up a good point, he’s not sure why Republicans are so eager to re-write section 230 knowing that there is a good possibility that the incoming party will be the ones writing the new rules and that the other side seems almost giddy at the prospect of yet another government entity overseeing these public platforms. He states he’s not sure government should be involved in this process for privately owned companies. Even though these privately-owned companies are massive and have such a far-reaching audience. He also brought up the fact that since such large percentages of these companies’ employees are Democrat supporters, do the owners of these companies think their “fact checkers” can be an impartial judge and jury when deciding on whether the information in question should be allowed to remain. Zuckerberg responded with an acknowledgement of this potential bias and stated they could do better on making sure they are more diverse in their hiring practices, but Facebook employees are across the world and he feels that alone is enough diversity to offset any potential biases. Dorsey responded with, they don’t really have people that make these decisions but rather it’s the algorithms that do the job and they can do a better job of making sure the algorithms are more precise and accurate.