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We Need Policy, Not WrestleMania

  • October 28, 2020

The internet executives, including Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter, kept suggesting that they don’t referee online speech and that computers — not humans — make decisions about what people see online. This is also false. Everything you see or don’t see on sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are there because people at those companies made a choice. Humans program computers, after all. And they do referee speech.

If you want to better understand the important issues at play, I posted a Twitter thread of articles that discuss the trade-offs of this internet law and that suggest helpful ideas to reform it. Even Zuckerberg is almost begging (somewhat disingenuously) for the government to write laws laying out what should be classified as dangerous and impermissible online speech.

Senator Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, got at the tricky balancing act during the hearing. “I don’t like the idea of unelected elites in San Francisco or Silicon Valley deciding whether my speech is permissible on their platform,” he said, “but I like even less the idea of unelected Washington, D.C., bureaucrats trying to enforce some kind of politically neutral content moderation.”

Good point. But then what is the solution? The problem is that lawmakers aren’t showing that they’re grappling with the law. Instead, they’re mostly just shouting.


Your lead

With Election Day less than a week away, we’re monitoring how tech companies like Facebook and Twitter are handling the surge of information (and misinformation) related to voting and results on their sites. What if a false voting rumor goes viral or a candidate declares victory before all of the votes are cast?

We want to hear what you’re curious or concerned about as Americans vote.

My Times colleagues and I will try to tackle a selection of your questions in the coming days. Email us at ontech@nytimes.com and write VOTE in the subject line.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/28/technology/section-230-hearing.html

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