Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the hot seat in Congress this week, facing an hours-long interrogation by two Senate committees on Tuesday and another by a House committee on Wednesday. Zuckerberg was pressed on a number of issues, including data privacy, ad practices, and censorship of conservative content.
The latter was badly needed, as new cases of Facebook unfairly censoring conservative and religious content pop up seemingly every week.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled Zuckerberg during the first day’s hearing, asking whether Facebook has ever censored Planned Parenthood or MoveOn.org:
Then Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) challenged Zuckerberg on why Facebook should be allowed to define “hate speech,” using the example of pro-life content that may be upsetting to post-abortive women:
Later, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) went after Zuckerberg over a case from last week, when Facebook blocked an ad from Franciscan University of Steubenville featuring an image of the San Damiano cross (which has been in use for nearly 1,000 years) because it was “shocking, sensational, or excessively violent”:
Everyone seems to agree — even Zuckerberg himself — that regulation of Facebook and possibly other online platforms is coming. The Left is angry with Facebook for not doing enough to stop Russians from abusing its platform, and the Right is angry with its censorship of conservative content. It’s pretty rare to have both sides against you, and Facebook should be worried.
The question is: what kind of regulations are coming, and will they be limited to just Facebook? Facebook is clearly approaching monopoly status — it controls 90 percent of the online ad market along with Google and has vanquished competitors like MySpace to become the only all-inclusive social network of its kind. Google is also basically a monopoly, and Amazon wants to be a monopoly. Will Congress finally get together to rein in Silicon Valley? Here’s hoping.
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