Social media giants have immense power over public discourse. They need to be more open about how they wield that power
In the United States at large, your right to free speech is protected by democratic institutions. Online, however, who gets to say what is based on the judgment of unelected corporations. What you say, and what you see, depends on judgments made by the guardians of the social media “commons”.
Two of the guardians, Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and Jack Dorsey, chief executive of Twitter, testified before Congress on Wednesday. Elected officials expressed a number of doubts about the companies’ effectiveness in monitoring speech. The Senate hearing was devoted in large part to concerns over manipulation by foreign agents, the presence of malicious bots, and the safeguarding of private user data. The House hearing, at which only Dorsey was present, dwelled more on conservatives’ perception that there is a leftwing bias on Twitter, and that conservative accounts are being “shadowbanned”.