Representatives of Google, Facebook, and Twitter are set to face United States lawmakers later this week and be subjected to a grilling over 21st-century censorship. Yes, another one.
A Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary's subcommittee chaired by GOP Senator Ted Cruz will be fielding questions over alleged bias the top names in the Silicon Valley are exhibiting in some of their content policies, according to recent reports.
The hearing with an ominous title of "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse" is scheduled to take place in Washington on April 10. The very name of the hearing makes it sound as if the subcommittee already decided on the social media giants' guilt and will simply be using the allotted time to score cheap political points with their base. For one reason or another, the aforementioned tech giants are said to be playing along with what's shaping up to be a farce; Facebook officially confirmed its public policy director Neil Potts will be in attendance, scheduled to give a testimony, whereas insiders claim Google and Twitter will also be sending their own representatives to answer questions at the hearing as well.
If all of that sounds familiar, it's because the GOP already held several such hearings throughout 2018, even after it became clear it's losing the control of the House, and with it, to power to actually legislative without compromising on anything with the other side of the political spectrum in the country.
The U.S. is presently at its most ideologically polarizing point in recent memory, yet even now both the DNC and GOP appear to agree some kind of social media regulation is a requirement. Neither appears to be too keen on proposing it for the time being; instead, they're running in circles with hearings led by old people who don't understand technology. As a result, unique and important opportunities such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's public hearing are being squandered on questions about how the Internet works, with tech media executives being more than happy to oblige and waste time on such trivial matters.
On one of the most recent occasions of such wasted opportunities, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, had to explain why images of President Donald Trump appear when people search for the term "idiot" online. As a result, precious minutes were wasted on explanations about how Google doesn't have a tiny man sitting behind an Internet-themed curtain and making tasteless political jokes whenever the opportunity to do so arises. To make matters even more pointless, those explanations were aimed in the direction of ancient lawmakers who have already made up their mind on the issue or at least have a public position they won't back away from as doing anything else would be political suicide.
How the U.S. ended up at this point is difficult to say, though the decay must have already started by the time the 2016 presidential race was in full swing and the likes of Facebook and Google failed to even detect suspicious foreign activity that was later proven as Russian meddling into the American democratic process.