“I would like, to each witness, to provide a personal commitment that your respective companies will proactively counter domestic disinformation that spreads the dangerous lies, such as masks don’t work, while aggressively identifying and removing disinformation that is part of foreign adversaries efforts to interfere in our election or undermine our democracy,” Duckworth demanded during the hearing. “Do I have that commitment from each of you gentlemen?”
Each of the Big Tech CEOs responded with an affirmative answer.
“We have made that commitment,” Dorsey said.
Pichai followed up with: “Senator, absolutely, yes.”
And Zuckerberg also vowed to censor these posts by stating: “Yes senator, I agree with that.”
Health authorities have issued conflicting recommendations on masks during the coronavirus pandemic. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends “the use of masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19.” But earlier this year, the CDC and other health authorities were advising people who are well to not wear face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Despite these changing recommendations around masks, Big Tech companies have generally shut down discussion about the effectiveness of masks and implemented one-sided censorship policies that prohibit posts that dispute the effectiveness of masks.
Facebook has implemented this one-sided censorship by cracking down on anti-mask groups while Twitter has locked the accounts of users that reject mandatory face masks.
On YouTube, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan has stated that independent creators “espousing their opinions about a mask” will have their videos removed or suppressed. Meanwhile, mainstream media videos about masks will be boosted.
Even independent creators that agree with the perspective of mainstream media outlets are affected by YouTube’s policy and have had their videos removed for violating YouTube community guidelines.