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Social media firms to testify at US House hearing

The US House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday to take testimony from Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s YouTube unit and Twitter Inc to see if social media firms are filtering content for political reasons, the committee chairman said, according to a Reuters report.

Conservative Republicans in Congress have criticised social media companies for what they claim are politically motivated practices in removing some content, an allegation the companies have rejected, as per the report in Reuters.

Bob Goodlatte, House Judiciary Committee chairman, said in a statement on Friday that he was happy the companies will send experts “to answer questions on their content moderation practices and how they can be better stewards of free speech in the United States and abroad.”

Reuters reported, “Twitter declined to comment. Facebook on Friday confirmed they would participate but declined further comment. Alphabet did not immediately comment.”

Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert, Youtube global head of public policy and government relations Juniper Downs and Twitter’s senior strategist Nick Pickles will testify, the committee said.

The committee held a hearing in April on the same topic after representatives of the companies skipped it.

Republicans repeatedly suggested at the hearing that the companies are censoring or blocking content from conservatives, a charge the companies rejected.

Lawmakers from both parties agreed tech companies must remove illegal content like fraud, piracy and sex trafficking but differed on whether they should remove objectionable content.

Goodlatte said “while these companies may have legal, economic, and ideological reasons to manage their content like a traditional media outlet, we must nevertheless weigh as a nation whether the standards they apply endanger our free and open society and its culture of freedom of expression.”

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in April that he is “very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.”

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