From Communications Daily:

R Street Institute Technology Policy Manager Tom Struble described the atmosphere as a “circus,” given the uncertainty about appearances from platforms, the apparent reversal involving EFF and late addition of Szoka. EFF might have wanted to avoid what has turned into a “political sideshow in an election year” hosted by a committee that may have felt “slighted” for not having the opportunity to question Zuckerberg when he was on Capitol Hill, Struble said. He called it a “high-risk, high reward” event for the platforms, in which they had the opportunity to “call bullshit” on claims over bias. If they didn’t successfully make that case, it would confirm concerns about social media filtering, he said.

National Religious Broadcasters President Jerry Johnson said the “end game” should be a level playing field, “a truly open square for the world of ideas.” NRB has been a critic of social media platforms for perceived censorship of Christian and conservative content (see 1804120058). If the platforms don’t appear at the hearing, it sends the message they are only interested in acting if Congress forces them, he said.

Struble said Thursday’s hearing could have implications for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides platforms freedom from certain liabilities when policing content. Szoka noted in his prepared remarks that the section was created to “avoid having the government try to meddle with ‘vast democratic forums’ of the internet and remove disincentives against responsible self-policing.”

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