Senators grill Twitter and Facebook over alleged political bias
And if we have tech companies using the powers of monopoly to censor political speech I think that raises real [UNKNOWN] trust issues.
Nobody knows how many speakers Twitter is blocking, how many speakers Facebook is blocking Nobody knows what the raw data is in terms of bias.
So one of the first things that this hearing seeks to accomplish is simply move us towards transparency.
Let me be clear about an important and founfational fact.
Twitter does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation To make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content, or how we enforce our rules, the notion that we would silence any political perspective is antithetical to our commitment to free expression.
Every day, we see hundreds of millions of tweets and thousands of violations of our policies.
We try to get each one of those right But we do make mistakes on all sides of the political spectrum and all around the world.
We will consistently work to get better and to be more transparent about our efforts.
Twitter wouldn't be Twitter if everyone had the same viewpoint.
We strive to balance safety and freedom of expression every day.
We believe strongly in being impartial and we endeavor to enforce our rules dispassionately.
We work extremely hard to make sure our algorithms are fair and aim to be transparent and fix issues when we make mistakes, in order to maintain the trust of our users, advertisers and the general public.
My name is Neil Potts and I'm a director at Facebook with oversight of our community standards.
I would like to make one point clear: Facebook does not favor one political viewpoint over another, and we do not suppress conservative speech.
We are committed to encouraging dialogue and the free-flow of ideas by designing our products to give people a voice by implementing standards and to ensure fair, transparent processes for removing content that does not belong on Facebook.
created our community standards, and standardized our confident removal decisions so they can be applied consistently, fairly, neutrally to a community that transcends regions, cultures, religions and languages.
We take neutrality seriously.
Our artificial intelligence algorithms have been designed, and our human content reviewers have been trained to ensure that content is reviewed in a neutral, Unbiased way.
And we're really focused on what's needed to keep our users safe.
Our [UNKNOWN] keep users from discussing controversial topics or supporting a debated point of view.
In order they favor opinions on one end of the political spectrum or another.
Given the fast amount of content we have on our platform, our reviewers have to respond to millions of reports each week from people all over the world.
And we don't always get it right.
We know there have been a number of high-profile content removal incidents and we're taking several steps to respond to those concerns raised by the subcommittee and others.
First we publish a community standard enforcement report twice a year.
That report describes the amount and type of content we're taking action against.
We publish comprehensive guidelines providing more priority around content moderation decisions.
We've solicited external feedback on our content moderation policies and sources across the political spectrum.
For example, former senator Kyle, he is leading a team gathering insights from members of Congress, a number of conservative groups, assessing whether there are any ways which the company is unintentionally biased against conservative points of view.
Third, We've created an appeals process for content that's been removed from our platform as hate speech.
We're working to extend that process further by creating an independent oversight board of experts on free speech and safety.
And finally we're continuing our work to enhance the quality of our machine learning.
The machine learning which is our first line of defence.
The contact assessment on our platform.
Mr Potts should Facebook promote spirited debate on all sides of the political spectrum and which of these is yes or no?
Thank you, Senator, yes, we allow security debate on all threats.
Okay, Mr Monje, same question.
Mr Potts, should Facebook allow ads urging that we save sea turtles or baby seals?
I believe that would be fine.
Mr Monje, should Twitter allow ads that denounce Planned Parenthood for selling baby body parts?
Ma'am, thank you for that question.
And I, I'd like to get apologize for
Every every ad is is judge.
That was good.
And we made a mistake on your end.
Okay, Mr. [UNKNOWN] should Twitter allow ads from Starbucks and Patagonia.
If they follow our terms of service.
And mister Potts, should Facebook allow ads from Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby?
If they follow our ads policies.
And who sets those policies?
Teammates of mine, we have separate teams that work on ads policies.
Are they subjective?
They are meant to be objective, Senator.
They're meant to be objective.
Do people bring their attitudes to work with them, their political attitudes to work with them?
I was incorrect in my statement.
They are objective and we try to strive for equal [UNKNOWN].
Okay, Mr Mundi, should Twitter equally provide Democrats and Republicans in search rankings?
Yes, and we strive to.
Mr Potts, same question.
I'm sorry, Senator.>> Should you equally promote Democrats and Republicans in the search rankings?
Okay, and Mr Potts, should Facebook equally promote articles from all news sources, whether they're from The Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post?
yes, yes [INAUDIBLE]
We've got a presidential year coming up in 2020.
So Mr. [UNKNOWN], please tell me what Twitter is doing to prepare its platform for censorship-free debate.
Thank you so much, Senator.
People come to Twitter to figure out what's going on in the world and never is that more important than during elections.
We spent a great amount of time in the lead up to the midterm elections, which were the most tweeted about elections in history.
We dramatically improved our ability to find efforts of disinformation, improved our partnerships with all the major parties, with the government and with NGOs to figure out vectors of threats.
And we had what we believe was an incredibly clean election.
And as the world turns there are additional elections in EU, in Japan, in India, in Israel yesterday.
And we're gonna continue to try to improve our systems, to find this information to make sure that there's greater context about [UNKNOWN]-
I know Facebook is hard on news, Director.
Have you All hired news directory.
We are structured diferently than Facebook we do, as a platfrom we are running towards news and work with news publishers of all sorts and to make sure that they can get their products out on our platform.
Okay and Mr Potts and Facebooks plan?
Their strategy for 2020.
Thank you, Senator, we've hired over 30,000 people to focus on safety and security.
We've made significant investments in what we call our election integrity.
We have full-time standing teams that are now focused on many of the elections going on in the world, whether it be BEU, India, Israel, as we'd mentioned yesterday.
But definitely focused on 2020 within the United States to insure that we are out in front to prevent any abuse that could occur on the platform.