On social media, veryone’s sharing, no one is taking responsibility
Political correctness is not for liberals only.
That immortal truth returned to center stage Wednesday as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai testified before the Senate Commerce Committee.
The conflict between the world views of Big Tech and Congress was well illustrated by a vigorous exchange between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Twitter’s Dorsey, whose social media platform has in many ways defined the presidency of Donald Trump.
"Is Twitter a publisher?” asked Cruz, sounding like he was in full future-Republican-presidential-candidate mode.
“No, we are not,” said Dorsey, whose long pandemic beard made him look like a tryout for “Duck Dynasty.” “We distribute information.”
“So, what is a publisher?” Cruz pressed on.
“An entity that is publishing under editorial guidelines and decision.”
In other words, those who see Twitter as a provider of editorial content to consumers may see it as a publisher. But to Twitter, social networks merely provide a platform through which content creators can reach their audiences.
That conflict lies at the heart of both parties’ interest in last week’s hearings: Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, enacted in 1996 when search engines and social networks were very young.
As Cruz pointed out, that act defines an information content provider as any person or entity that is “responsible, in whole or in part, for the creation or development of information provided through the internet or any other interactive computer service.”