Some of Silicon Valley top algorithm experts testified Tuesday in front of bipartisan members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, tasked with defending Big Tech from accusations it capitalizes on “short-term rage” and their role in society’s increasing polarization.
Democratic Delaware Senator Chris Coons, chairman of the committee, opened Tuesday’s “Algorithms and Amplification” hearing by asking “what happens when algorithms become so good at showing you content” that users spend hours tuned into frequently hateful or outright false messaging. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube consistently defended the use of algorithms and other social media platform technology as tools of “open public conversation.” But GOP Senator Ben Sasse joined committee members in questioning the Silicon Valley companies on whether they’re capitalizing off “misinformation” and users’ “narcissistic” impulses.
“People are pretty good at short-term rage, and the product capitalizes on that, doesn’t it?” Sasse asked Twitter’s head of U.S. public policy, Lauren Culbertson.
“The reality is the loop between the products that are being produced and the way we as narcissistic sinners consume it, is it or is it not true that when somebody tweets something is really anger-invoking and outrageous, and it goes viral, but then two hours later they were wrong and correct it—the corrections is only 3 percent of the traffic of the original outrageous, false thing?”