The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are being hauled before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday for a hearing provocatively titled, "Does Section 230's sweeping immunity enable big tech bad behavior?"
It's certain to feature political theater and partisan bickering. But it's a prime opportunity for Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey to offer their best defenses of the internet's prized liability shield — and signal what changes they'd be open to.
Here are the key points the CEOs will make, according to their prepared testimony.
Sundar Pichai, Google
"Let me be clear: We approach our work without political bias, full stop. To do otherwise would be contrary to both our business interests and our mission, which compels us to make information accessible to every type of person, no matter where they live or what they believe."
"Of course, our ability to provide access to a wide range of information is only possible because of existing legal frameworks, like Section 230."
"As you think about how to shape policy in this important area, I would urge the Committee to be very thoughtful about any changes to Section 230 and to be very aware of the consequences those changes might have on businesses and consumers."
"At the end of the day, we all share the same goal: free access to information for everyone and responsible protections for people and their data. We support legal frameworks that achieve these goals."
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
"Without Section 230, platforms could potentially be held liable for everything people say. Platforms would likely censor more content to avoid legal risk and would be less likely to invest in technologies that enable people to express themselves in new ways."
"Without Section 230, platforms could face liability for doing even basic moderation, such as removing hate speech and harassment that impacts the safety and security of their communities."
"However, the debate about Section 230 shows that people of all political persuasions are unhappy with the status quo."
"I believe Congress should update the law to make sure it's working as intended. We support the ideas around transparency and industry collaboration that are being discussed in some of the current bipartisan proposals."
"We stand ready to work with Congress on what regulation could look like in these areas. By updating the rules for the internet, we can preserve what's best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms."
"I'd like to close by thanking this Committee, and particularly Chairman Wicker and Ranking Member Cantwell, for your leadership on the issue of online privacy. Facebook has long supported a comprehensive federal privacy law, and we have had many constructive conversations with you and your staffs as you have crafted your proposals. I understand that there are still difficult issues to be worked out, but I am optimistic that legislators from both parties, consumer advocates, and industry all agree on many of the fundamental pieces."
Jack Dorsey, Twitter
"Procedural fairness at Twitter also means we ensure that all decisions are made without using political viewpoints, party affiliation, or political ideology, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce the Twitter Rules. Our Twitter Rules are not based on ideology or a particular set of beliefs. We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our Twitter Rules fairly."
"As we consider developing new legislative frameworks, or committing to self-regulation models for content moderation, we should remember that Section 230 has enabled new companies — small ones seeded with an idea — to build and compete with established companies globally. Eroding the foundation of Section 230 could collapse how we communicate on the internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies."
"I do not think anyone in this room or the American people want less free speech or more abuse and harassment online. Instead, what I hear from people is that they want to be able to trust the services they are using."
"In some circumstances, sweeping regulations can further entrench companies that have large market shares and can easily afford to scale up additional resources to comply. We are sensitive to these types of competition concerns because Twitter does not have the same breadth of interwoven products or market size as compared to our industry peers."
"I believe the best way to address our mutually held concerns is to require the publication of moderation processes and practices, a straightforward process to appeal decisions, and best efforts around algorithmic choice. These are achievable in short order."