back to article Big Tech's Section 230 Senate hearing was like Jack Dorsey’s beard: An inexplicable mess that needed a serious trim

This morning the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing with the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to discuss making changes to a critical piece of US legislation that provides online platforms, used by billions of people, legal protections from the content those people post. Yes, we're talking about changes to Section …

  1. Mark192 Silver badge

    Yeah, but...

    ...what did you /really/ think? ;-)

    1. Barking mad

      Re: Yeah, but...

      More to the point: did you really expect anything different?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Fake victimhood

        They can't even do that whiney loser victimhood properly!

        If I was Dorsey, I'd point out those emails that the WH was pushing, came from Russian military intelligence and were offered to Republicans last year. Trump's impeachable quid-pro-quo was supposed to get Ukraine to add some substance with a fake investigation. Republicans couldn't stomach being so directly linked to a Russian military intelligence disinformation op then.

        Now these Russian attack emails 'miraculously' appear claimed from a laptop repair shop run by a Trump man, who took a COPY and gave a COPY to NYPost and a COPY to Fox News, who sent a COPY to Tucker Carlson at their New York office.

        Now Tucker claims that the *only* COPY of the emails was lost on its way to him, perhaps deep state took it to hide the evidence, claims the Fox News liar.

        See how desperate they are?

        Isn't it always the way. There are people in each country that will sell out their country for power. They'll do deals, and conspire with Moscow, if the deals benefit them personally.

        Isn't that right Senator Cruz?

        It's tempting to think that only politicians are up for sale, but you might want to go take a look at Supreme Court justices too. If Trump has taught you anything, its that there are no bottom to this lot, they will do anything and say anything to get power. Given the Russian bots were out in force during the Kavanaugh hearing you might want to go dig and find out why that is.

        Millions of American votes do not count, but Putin's opinion does? Is that right Mr Kavanaugh?

        1. Mongrel

          Re: Fake victimhood

          Now Tucker claims that the *only* COPY of the emails was lost on its way to him, perhaps deep state took it to hide the evidence, claims the Fox News liar.

          Not forgetting the recent law suit that successfully defended him;

          "The judge said that lawyers for Fox "persuasively" argued that "any reasonable viewer 'arrive[s] with an appropriate amount of skepticism' about the statements" Carlson makes, according to a court filing."


  2. Mark192 Silver badge


    I've been thinking about how we ensure that only competent people get into positions of responsibility.

    My solution? Select from one of the few professions that have to take a no-nonsense approach and can't bullshit their way through their career.

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      Re: Engineers

      And what "profession" might that be? I would propose that sanitation workers ("dustmen") might be one of the few that meet that qualification.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: Engineers

      Presidents who were engineers include Herbert Hoover and (arguably) Jimmy Carter.

      Make of that what you will.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: Engineers

        Angela Merkel is a physicist who also studied mathematics and speaks fluent Russian. ( As well as great English and some French)...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Merkel

          Not sure whether to up vote or down vote your post, were you bigging her up or pointing out that intelligent people can be cnuts as politicians?

    3. Blofeld's Cat Silver badge

      Re: Engineers

      Strangely it appears that the people who, in their own opinion, seem to be most suited to running the country, are unfortunately either too busy driving taxis or cutting hair to do so.

    4. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Engineers

      Xi Jinping was educated as a Chemical Engineer. He also has a doctorate in "law and ideology" whatever the heck that is.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: Engineers

        It's pretty much the equivalent of American 'Constitutional Law', which coincidentally ex-president Obama lectured in, after graduating in 'Political Science'.

  3. Someone Else Silver badge


    After over four hours of this, it was hard not to conclude that the greater threat to democracy is the senators themselves.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amen.

      Well, generally speaking, human beings are the biggest threat to democracy.

  4. sbt Silver badge

    "... it is enormously time-consuming and incredibly expensive to do so."

    So? Not sure why giant, hugely profitable corporate behemoths should get to sh*t all over civil society for the sake of 'engagement' and monopolise the resulting revenues, whilst evaporating gainful employment in so many sectors. They should be making new jobs, even if it's content moderation. Quality is not less important than speed. Their main motivation for doing the bare minimum is that BS, fake news and trollery gets more engagement. The network effect is real and it's too late for non-users-as-the-product models to compete as things stand.

    If they want the S230 shield, then they also need to facilitate proper accountability/legal sanctions where necessary on their users, if those are to be treated as the real 'publishers'. Otherwise they should be treated as the publishers themselves, like sites with proper journos, or even some random blogger with their own .com.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It is actually an interesting case study: the story is dubious to say the least. While some of a cache of emails appear to be real, the ones that are being heavily pushed are most likely not."

    I'm no forensic expert but I have used some open-source forensic software on a raw disk image and the amount of information you can acquire is breathtaking.

    Furthermore, there are several different ways to tell how and when a file was added to the disk and sevral different data points left on a drive to further fingerprint files and data and I ASSume the FBI has better software than what is in the Linux repositories.

    I am acquainted with someone that does professional data recovery and forensics and one of his cases was about evidence planted on his clients computer and he was able to prove beyond reasonable doubt in court that the data was added to the drive.

    Granted, the planters of said evidence wasn't some shady government hacks or APT but I digress.

    All I'm saying is that it is much harder to plant some incriminating evidence than most people realize and I have no doubt that SOMEONE at the FBI knows the real truth.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      Re: Forensics

      As I pointed out before, there are good journalists who do just that. I don't include news Corp in that list.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Forensics

      Given the pictures, the people that have confirmed receipt of some of the emails, the audio recordings and the videos, the claim that some emails are being faked does feel it needs some evidence.

      However, leaving that aside, the behaviour of the tech giants (and the media) in relation to those emails when compared to the supposed revelations about Donald Trump's tax returns does demonstrate double standards at play.

      It's those double standards that are the cause for concern, and it's a shame that the Senate failed to properly explore that issue.

  6. FelixReg

    Move the word "Comment" down to the 2nd paragraph

    We all can read the dailykos. Why is this content-free flame even here?

    And this whole issue is very important and not at all simple, even without the hysterics from flaming true believers and senators alike.

    1. horse of a different color

      Re: Move the word "Comment" down to the 2nd paragraph

      Come on, those tech billionaires never catch a break. Jack Dorsey looks like he sleeps under a bridge.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Move the word "Comment" down to the 2nd paragraph

        Jack Dorsey looks like he sleeps under a bridge.

        In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.

        Anatole France.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Senator Ron Johnson (R-celebrates US Independence Day with Putin in Moscow) is one of the dumbest Senators alive. There’s dryer lint smarter than him.

  8. naive

    This article is clearly written

    By some google bot or another Dobby paid for by Big Tech.

    Describing the Senators as dumb and the issues they brought up as irrelevant are lies to attempt to persuade people to think they are victims of an unjustified witch hunt.

    It is really advisable to watch some excerpts available on youtube covering the proceedings, which clearly show that doing nothing will continue the current state of Big Tech totalitarianism which is a threat to our freedom. In the end it is all about money, using their power, they made the majority of politicians think it is good for the world that Big Tech pays less than 5% taxes, while the average worker and bakery shop pay rates up to 70% on their hard earned income.

    1. PTW


      You're obviously new here, and to socialism and Kieren

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This article is clearly written

      I remember when El Reg was anti-establishment and edgy.

      Now, its writers are creating articles in support of Big Tech creating a 1984 world that would make The Running Man, Blade Runner and Escape from New York look like romantic comedies.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This article is clearly written

      That was kind of my impression too. It was written with such far-left hyperbole and agenda-flogging it would have made the Twitter-rehashers at CNN or NBC blush with envy.

      Should have just recorded it in "Fredo" Cuomo's grating voice, just to make it complete.

      1. genghis_uk Silver badge

        Re: This article is clearly written

        I love the "Far-Left" that Americans allude to...

        In Europe, this would be considered slightly right of centre (sorry, center). Having a left wing that is roughly the same as moderate UK Tories and a right wing that is just shy of the German NSDAP, I am not sure that the US really understands what socialist actually means.

        Back to it, if Twitter/ Facebook etc. have to answer to the Government for moderation (how many times? not censorship Sen. Lee, you cockwomble!) choices, what happened to the 1st Amendment? They are private companies and can do what they bloody well want. It would have been great for one of the CEOs to have said that! "Sen. Cruz, may I remind you of the 1st Amendment and respectfully tell you to stick your bias etc.." It would have been priceless. Sen Blackburn asking if a Google staffer that was mean to her is still employed? Positively scary and should have got a "none of your damn business who we employ".

        Do they have left leaning staff? Probably as they are based in CA and WA, but does it matter? Don't like the lean? Fine, go to Gab and Parler... you will find many like-minded, true Red (as in Republican, not commie types) people to talk to. No leftist, speech on there to upset you. No moderation of conservative views. Why stay with Twitter / Facebook if you don't agree with the policies?

        1. naive

          Re: This article is clearly written

          Big Tech committing unlawful acts is not the point in these hearings, it is the reach they have which is disrupting democracy. A base principle of democracy is that voters have access to information to make educated guesses about who will probably do the best job. If Big Tech is suppressing this information flow, by creating a one-sided story, it hinders people to make these educated guesses. Democracies around the world are in danger if we allow them to get away with this.

          Big Tobacco could in its hay day have tried to take influence on main stream media to suppress information concerning the risks of tobacco use, this would be perfectly legal, but bad for the general health of the population.

  9. AGR123

    Non partisan or Woke - your choice

    Twitter blocks New York Post but not misinformation on Russian interference in elections (disproved), or Islamic hate speech. El Reg please go back to being non-partisan or do you just want to become another woke outlet

  10. jason_derp Bronze badge

    Just tell them to get stuffed

    I don't understand why these CEOs don't just tell congresspeople to go find a belt-sander to copulate with. What would they do, stare angrily while they prepare to shout about what they "should have said" to their hapless aids after the hearing? They have no real power in their country when compared to tech CEOs, and those CEOs are too powerful to bother caring what congresspeople have to say anyways. They can break laws all they want and they'll never get called on it because nobody in any branch of their government is mentally equipped to actual fathom what's going on in the world of tech. At the very least, it would be an easily digestible gesture to the population that their legislature is weak and ineffective, which, while a little disheartening, is a lesson those citizens should really start learning already.

  11. iron Silver badge

    I had no idea you suffered from Pogonophobia Keiren. Jack's beard looks good to me, in fact I'm envious since I can't get mine quite that long.

    P.S. Beard oil is for hipsters.

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