More than three hours into today's Section 230 hearing, the CEOs were finally given the opportunity to get into some specifics around Section 230, the purported subject of their testimony before Congress. For a few moments, at least.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito asked Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Pichai about how they define the "otherwise objectionable" content protected by Section 230. (Section 230 provides immunity to platforms that remove content they deem "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing or otherwise objectionable.")
Zuckerberg warned against proposals that tweak that language. "Some of the things we bucket in 'otherwise objectionable' content today include general bullying and harassment of people on the platform," Zuckerberg said. "Now, we worry that some of the proposals that suggest getting rid of the phrase 'otherwise objectionable' from Section 230 would limit our ability to remove bullying and harassing activity from our platforms, which would make them worse places for people."
Pichai agreed, saying that the current language provides Google with "flexibility."
Capito then asked the executives to discuss how Section 230 protects small businesses, an argument that she said makes her "skeptical," considering how few rivals there are to Facebook, Twitter and Google. Zuckerberg said it was "important" to ensure that Section 230 reform does not encumber small companies just being built, and suggested a legislative fix that would exempt those companies from compliance.