US lawmakers ask tech giants to ban more offensive accounts

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Washington, July 18 (IANS) US lawmakers have asked tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter to draw clearer limits and flush out hyper-partisan pages from their platforms.

In a three-hour hearing on Tuesday, Republicans and Democrats told the social media platforms to make it clearer when they would ban accounts of repeat offenders, The Verge reported.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s Global Head of Policy Management, told the lawmakers that Facebook has regularly been removing hyper-partisan pages.

The hearing was a follow-up to an April hearing about “social media censorship”.

Representatives from Facebook, Google and Twitter said “their policies take neutral stances politically, and said it is in their best interest to host voices from across the ideological spectrum”.

According to Washington Post, Facebook, Google and Twitter sought to defend themselves against accusations from Republican lawmakers who said the tech giants censor conservative news and views.

“Our success as a company depends on making Twitter a safe space for free expression,” replied Nick Pickles, a policy aide who testified on behalf of Twitter, to the lawmakers.

According to Juniper Downs, chief of policy issues at Google-owned YouTube, “We have a natural and long-term incentive to make sure our products work for users of all viewpoints”.

Democrats repeatedly questioned the point of the hearing, urging their Republican counterparts to turn their attention to more pressing issues.

“What a dumb hearing this entire hearing is,” said Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA).

Lawmakers also said they will revisit Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which offers social media platforms limited immunity for being sued over what their users post.



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