Facebook and Google will be grilled by Congress today on white nationalism as they struggle to silence hate speech


Sundar Pichai Mark Zuckerberg

  • Facebook and Google will be grilled on Tuesday about white nationalism on their platforms.
  • Policy executives from both firms will face questions from the House Judiciary Committee during a hearing at 10 a.m. in Washington.
  • It follows Facebook banning white nationalism and YouTube grappling with the issue.
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Facebook and Google are back in Congress this week facing tough questions.

The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee is going to grill executives from Facebook and Google at 10 a.m. on Tuesday about how they police hate speech their platforms, The Washington Post reports.

The witness list reveals that Facebook’s Director of Public Policy Neil Potts and Google’s Public Policy and Government Relations Counsel Alexandria Walden will testify, alongside expert witnesses from civil rights organisations, including the Anti-Defamation League. House Democrats told the Post that Tuesday’s hearing is the first of a series on the issue of white nationalism.

Facebook recently banned white nationalism, along with white separatism, saying the ideologies could not be “meaningfully separated” from white supremacy and organized hate groups. Far-right figure Faith Goldy fell foul of the ban this week.

Facebook’s ban came shortly after the mass murder of Muslim worshipers in two New Zealand mosques, which the suspected attacker streamed live on Facebook.

Google-owned YouTube is also grappling with the issue of white nationalism. Last week, the video service all-but banned far-right activist Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, restricting likes, comments, and suggested videos from his posts.

“They [the tech giants] clearly have been conduits for that kind of hate speech,” Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary committee holding Tuesday’s hearing, told the Post.

Read more: Britain is coming for big tech — here’s how Silicon Valley is responding

Meanwhile, the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on the Judiciary is holding an evidence session on Wednesday on allegations of political bias in tech. The hearing is titled, “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse,” and will be chaired by Sen. Ted Cruz.

US President Donald Trump accused Google of anti-conservative bias in August 2018, claiming the company was rigging search results to surface more negative news stories about him. There was no evidence to support his claims.

More recently in March, the president told reporters that social media companies silence conservative voices online. “Something’s happening with those groups of folks that are running Facebook and Google and Twitter, and I do think we have to get to the bottom of it,” he said.

SEE ALSO: Apple, Google, and Facebook could be forced to censor apps and sites featuring ‘harmful’ content under new UK laws

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