Hearing: Big Tech to Be Questioned on Terrorist Activity

In the wake of terror attacks, Big Tech companies are being taken to task over content policing.

The June 26 hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee will feature testimonies from Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. According to Bloomberg Law’s coverage, Facebook’s head of global policy management Monicka Bickert, Twitter’s senior strategist for public policy Nick Pickles, and Google’s global director of information policy Derek Slater are going to testify.

After the tragic New Zealand terrorist attack, companies like Twitter and Facebook signed the Christchurch call which was meant to “prevent terrorists from uploading extremist content online, and to increase transparency around tech companies’ algorithms and the detection and removal of such content.”

CNET observed that multiple Big Tech giants quickly signed onto this call, including Twitter Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube. In addition, governments such as the U.K, Germany, France, Norway, Spain, and Sweden have agreed to the proposal as well. 

The United States, wary of any slippery slope that could lead to restriction of free speech, declined to sign the call. 

In a marked contrast, conservative politicians have repeatedly accused multiple companies of using their platforms to suppress free speech. 

On June 19, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Ending Support for Internet Censorship Act. The proposal is meant to prevent further censorship of conservative speech online. The bill makes the special legal immunity offered by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act conditional based upon whether they properly behave as neutral platforms.

In a testament to the fact that the dividing line between acceptable versus restricted speech is violence, Republicans are calling for Big Tech CEO’s to ban legitimate terror organizations. Sixteen Republican congresspeople sent a letter calling for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to ban terror group Hamas, citing that this organization “calls for the murder of every Jew and the destruction of the State of Israel through the covenant of Jihad.”

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