U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, today participated in a full Commerce Committee hearing, titled “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior?,” to examine Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and discuss the need for potential reform in response to social media growth and advancement over the last few decades. During the hearing, Thune questioned CEOs from Google, Facebook, and Twitter on consumer transparency and accountability and the perceived political bias that exists on social media platforms.
Thune has introduced two bipartisan bills, the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act, that would help increase online transparency and accountability.
Earlier today, Thune joined CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to preview the hearing.
Thune’s opening remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. Chairman, I appreciate you convening this hearing today, which is an important follow-up to the subcommittee hearing we convened in July on Section 230.
“Many of us here today – and many of those we represent – are deeply concerned about the possibility of political bias and discrimination by large internet and social media platforms. Others are concerned that – even if your actions aren’t skewed – they are hugely consequential for our public debate, yet you operate with limited accountability.
“Such distrust is intensified by the fact that the moderation practices used to suppress or amplify content remain largely a black box to the public.
“Moreover, the public explanations given by the platforms for taking down or suppressing content too often seem like excuses that have to be walked back after scrutiny.
“And due to exceptional secrecy with which platforms protect their algorithms and content moderation practices, it’s been impossible to prove one way or another whether political bias exists, so users are stuck with anecdotal information that frequently seems to confirm their worst fears.
“That is why I’ve introduced two bipartisan bills – the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency (PACT) Act and the Filter Bubble Transparency Act – to give users, regulators, and the general public meaningful insight into online content moderation decisions and how algorithms may be amplifying or suppressing information.
“I look forward to continuing this important discussion today.”