Today: The CEOs of major social media platforms are gearing up to testify before a House committee tomorrow on misinformation around COVID-19 and the recent Capitol riot. Meanwhile, a group of 12 state attorneys general are pressuring Facebook and Twitter to tackle COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, and two lawmakers reintroduced legislation aimed at making internet-connected devices safer for the consumer.
TECH HEARING TIME AGAIN: The CEOs of the country’s biggest social media platforms will testify Thursday before a Congress eager to press them on their roles spreading misinformation related to coronavirus and the lead-up to the deadly insurrection at the Capitol in January.
Facebook’s Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden leans heavily into gun control House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Facebook rolls out physical keys to guard against hacking mobile accounts MORE, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Google’s Sundar Pichai will appear remotely in front of two House Energy and Commerce subcommittees set to take a markedly different tone from previous hearings.
“We are done with conversation,” Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyProgressives up pressure on Biden to back COVID vaccine patent waiver House lawmakers fired up for hearing with tech CEOs Lawmakers press federal agencies on scope of SolarWinds attack MORE (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, said at an event Monday. “We are now moving ahead with regulation and legislation, and that is inevitable. We want them to understand how seriously they better take this.”
What to expect: The hearing will likely focus on the part the massive platforms play in spreading potentially dangerous misinformation — ranging from election result conspiracies to lies about the coronavirus vaccine — and a suite of proposed and forthcoming legislative fixes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which gives platforms liability protection from content posted by third parties and allows them to safely moderate.
All three companies have highlighted their work on content moderation and new policies recently, hinting at how they will approach the hearing.
HERE’S WHAT THE CEOS WILL SAY: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is set to propose a reform to legal liability protections for tech firms during congressional testimony on Thursday.
In prepared remarks released Wednesday, Zuckerberg argues that the immunity granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act for third-party posts should be conditioned on platforms adhering to best practices for removing unlawful content.
“Instead of being granted immunity, platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it,” he is set to tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
Google’s plans: Pichai’s testimony appears to hew to a more cautious approach to Section 230, warning that repealing it could hamper efforts to address misinformation.
Twitter’s input: Dorsey’s prepared remarks focus less on legislative fixes and more on the content and policy decisions that Twitter has made recently to rein in misinformation.
STATE AGS ON THEIR CASE: A group of 12 state attorneys general sent a letter to Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday urging them to more aggressively enforce platform policies against coronavirus vaccine misinformation.
Led by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D), the group argues that content on the social media sites are increasing vaccine hesitancy, which will “slow economic recovery and, more importantly, ultimately cause even more unnecessary deaths.”
Bad data: The letter points to a report released by the Center for Countering Digital Hate Wednesday that claims that anti-vaccine accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube have more than 59 million followers.
The study also found that the personal accounts and associated organizations of 12 prominent figures account for upward of 60 percent of anti-vaccine content on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
“Social media is enabling anti-vaxxers to recruit millions of Americans and indoctrinate them with fear and doubt,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the center, said in a statement on the report’s release. “If Big Tech companies don’t act now, the pandemic will be prolonged, and more lives will be lost.”
A ROYAL TECH STORY: Prince HarryPrince Harry Prince Harry joins Aspen Institute commission on misinformation Hillicon Valley: John Matze takes on Parler | Prince Harry heads to Silicon Valley | YouTube leaves up Boulder shooting video Prince Harry to be named chief impact officer at BetterUp MORE will be joining the Aspen Institute’s six-month commission aimed at tackling misinformation.
The commission will be co-chaired by journalist Katie Couric, former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) director Christopher Krebs, and Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change.
NEW (OLD) BILL IN TOWN: Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Obama NOAA leader joins Biden White House in climate role | Study: Climate change could reduce more than 60 countries’ credit ratings | NASA climate official says agency has ‘renewed emphasis’ on practical science applications Ocasio-Cortez, Warren introduce bill to put 0 billion toward electric public transit How to bridge the digital divide without widening partisan divides MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to Obama marine monument designation | Interior reverses course on tribal ownership of portion of Missouri river | White House climate adviser meets with oil and gas companies Anger over anti-Asian violence, rhetoric rips through Capitol Lawmakers condemn anti-Asian rhetoric at hearing following shootings MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday again rolled out legislation intended to help secure internet-connected devices and increase consumer confidence in them.
The Cyber Shield Act would create a voluntary cybersecurity certification program for internet-connected devices, also known as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These include everything from mobile phones to smart kitchen appliances to baby monitors, with more devices in use every year.
Stamp of approval: The bill would also establish an advisory committee made up of cybersecurity experts in government, the private sector and academia to create security benchmarks for internet-connected devices. The benchmarks would enable the devices’ manufacturers to voluntarily label their products to show they have met these standards.
FACEBOOK TAKES ACTION: Facebook on Wednesday announced that it had taken steps to disrupt efforts of Chinese hacking groups to target and surveil members of the Uyghur community both in China and abroad.
Two senior Facebook officials noted in a blog post that a Chinese hacking group known as “Evil Eye” or “Earth Empusa” had been targeting journalists, activists and dissidents in the global Uyghur community.
The Chinese government has taken increasingly hostile measures against the minority Muslim community, which mostly lives in the Xinjiang province of China.
According to Facebook, the hackers had attempted to install malware viruses on the mobile devices of their targets in order to enable surveillance activities. The hackers used Facebook to send links to malicious websites to the victims, who included those living in the United States, Australia, Turkey, Syria, Kazakhstan, Canada and other countries outside of China.
MAJOR INVESTMENT: Intel is investing in new chipmaking plants in Arizona as it struggles to keep up with competitors in the high-tech manufacturing field.
Intel has reportedly struggled to streamline its microchip manufacturing process in the face of competition and will be eligible for around $ 90 million in tax credits should it follow through with its plans in Arizona. Arizona lawmakers rushed through more funding for tax credits just ahead of the company’s announcement, the AP noted.
NEW WAY TO GET PRESCRIPTIONS: Uber announced on Wednesday that it is expanding its prescription delivery service.
The ride-sharing forum said in a blog post that it is partnering with prescription drug delivery service ScriptDrop, a partnership that would allow pharmacies in 37 states to offer delivery services.
The company plans on expanding the service in “the coming weeks and months”
[email protected] (Maggie Miller,Chris Mills Rodrigo and Rebecca Klar)