Facebook defends its stand against misinformation

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will grill Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey on misinformation plaguing online platforms.

San Francisco : Facebook on Monday defended its position in tackling the spread of misinformation on its family of apps, as the social network (along with Google and Twitter) is set to face a new US House hearing on Wednesday.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will grill Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on misinformation plaguing online platforms.

Guy Rosen, VP, Integrity at Facebook, said in a statement that there are some who believe that the company has a financial interest in turning a blind eye to misinformation.

“The opposite is true. We have every motivation to keep misinformation off of our apps and we’ve taken many steps to do so at the expense of user growth and engagement,” Rosen argued.

Facebook said that between October and December 2020, it disabled more than 1.3 billion malicious accounts.

“Over the past three years, we’ve removed over 100 networks of coordinated inauthentic behaviour (CIB) from our platform and keep the public informed about our efforts through our monthly CIB reports,” Rosen informed.

However, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. said in a statement recently that whether it be falsehoods about the Covid-19 vaccine or debunked claims of election fraud, “these online platforms have allowed misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety”.

“This hearing will continue the Committee’s work of holding online platforms accountable for the growing rise of misinformation and disinformation,” Pallone said.

Dorsey and Zuckerberg previously appeared before the US Congress in November, for the Senate Judiciary’s hearing on moderation and misinformation labelling.

This will be the first hearing by the tech giants after the Capital Chaos on January 6 and various actions the companies took in the wake of the attack.

Facebook said that it has built a global network of more than 80 independent fact-checkers, who review content in more than 60 languages.

“For the most serious kinds of misinformation, such as false claims about Covid-19 and vaccines and content that is intended to suppress voting, we will remove the content,” he added.

As with every integrity challenge, said Facebook, its enforcement will never be perfect.

“While nobody can eliminate misinformation from the Internet entirely, we continue using research, teams, and technologies to tackle it in the most comprehensive and effective way possible,” Rosen said.

The tech platforms are facing intense scrutiny over the spread of fake news, hate speech and misinformation on their platforms for quite some time and have not been able to satisfy the governments worldwide with their answers.

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