Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will repeat arguments in favour of reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, according to prepared remarks made available by the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy & Commerce. “Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it,” Zuckerberg will say. Section 230 is a piece of legislation that largely shields large online intermediaries like social media platforms from liability for content posted by users.
The company has stepped up its advocacy on the issue amid scrutiny on social media companies over fake news and disinformation. Facebook has been vague on the kind of technologies platforms should leverage, leading to concern among smaller platforms that the company is pushing for rulemaking that it will be in a better position to comply with. Steps Facebook has already taken, as has been noted before, are largely the sector-wide reforms it is recommending. For instance, Facebook suggests independent oversight on decision making on content removal; Facebook has created an Oversight Board to that end. In that sense, Zuckerberg’s opening remarks don’t cover any new ground.
What Zuckerberg is recommending
- Requiring moderation systems: Zuckerberg will specifically advocate for an amendment that would require intermediaries to demonstrate that they are working on identifying and removing illegal content. Platforms “should be required to have adequate systems in place to address unlawful content,” he will say.
- Oversight on decision making: “In addition to concerns about unlawful content, Congress should act to bring more transparency, accountability, and oversight to the processes by which companies make and enforce their rules about content that is harmful but legal,” Zuckerberg will say. This builds on his previous .
- Pledges “productive partner[ship]” in rulemaking: “Ultimately it is up to Congress and the new Administration to chart the path forward,” Zuckerberg is set to say. “Facebook stands ready to be a productive partner in the discussion about Section 230 reform—as well in important and urgent conversations about updating the rules for privacy, elections, and data portability.”
Zuckerberg is set to testify at 9:30pm India Standard Time on March 25. His remarks will be carried live by the House Committee on YouTube. For most of his opening remarks, Zuckerberg will focus on describing actions Facebook has taken to combat election- and pandemic-related misinformation. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google parent Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai will also testify.
Update (3:30pm): This post’s headline and content was updated shortly after publication.