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Tech CEOs clash with lawmakers in Senate hearing

Yahoo Finance’s Brian Sozzi, Alexis Christoforous, and Dan Howley recap yesterday’s big tech hearing.

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: Silicon Valley is still buzzing today after three of the biggest tech CEOs in the game got shredded by lawmakers on Wednesday. Yahoo Finance Tech Editor Dan Howley is here to discuss. Dan, not a good look for big tech.

DAN HOWLEY: Not a good look for big tech. Not a good look for the Republican senators who were on the Commerce Committee either. Basically, what happened here was this was supposed to be a conversation on the merits of Section 230, which basically provides a liability shield for tech companies, specifically those that allow for user-generated content. Essentially, it provides a liability shield against taking down some of those posts in good faith that may have content that harasses other users or threatens violence, things along those lines, that violate the platform's specific terms of service.

But what it ended up being was a kind of a sideshow about anti-conservative bias of which there's been on these platforms, of which there's been no evidence to point to, anything that exists like that. And then a kind of a sniping back and forth between Democrats and Republicans about holding the hearing at all so close to the 2020 election. So this really came, you know, about as-- or it came across as completely unsubstantive.

The two, uh, three CEOs were there-- Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Sundar Pichai of Alphabet. And you know, a lot of the ire was pointed at Dorsey, specifically over the New York Post article that was blocked recently, but, you know, none of the discussion talked about how that article was also heavily scrutinized by other media outlets. It mostly pointed to the post just having their account locked because of it.

So I don't see anything really coming of this hearing. It's not just Republicans that want to see Section 230 changed, though. Democrats have said they want to see the-- the law changed as well, to hold platforms more accountable for disinformation, misinformation that they spread or that are spread on their services. So, you know, eventually there will be a change to this law, but this really wasn't the forum to discuss anything substantive about it.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah, you know, Dan, I thought it was kind of ironic that Mark Zuckerberg had a kind of tough time getting connected initially, because he had technical difficulties. And then they got it together. But what's the next steps? What comes next for these companies? What have lawmakers set?

DAN HOWLEY: You know, next, they think they're going to have to still discuss where this goes with whatever administration takes power. Under the Trump administration, he's already asked for the FTC and FCC to look at potential changes. Joe Biden has said he wants changes to the law as well. There's issues that kind of cross the aisle, so we'll have to see come the election.

BRIAN SOZZI: Dan Howley, thanks so much.