As Facebook and Twitter grapple with questions about censorship and deletion, another Big Tech rival – Google – is conspicuously absent.
“Google received a pass from today’s hearing,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in his opening speech. “He was rewarded by this committee for his shyness, doing even less than [Facebook and Twitter] must assume its responsibilities. ”
Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared at the Senate Trade Committee hearing last month alongside his Facebook and Twitter counterparts, Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, but Google has often eluded (or avoided) the same level of control by legislators.
In fact, in 2018, the Senate Intelligence Committee set up an empty chair next to Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, with a sign for Google, at a glance at the company’s refusal to propose to Pichai or another high level leader to testify.
Blumenthal argued that tech companies had taken only “small steps” to tackle harmful disinformation on their platforms.
Google-owned YouTube has been criticized for not doing enough to tackle disinformation during the election, using a much less aggressive strategy than Facebook or Twitter.
The video platform placed an information panel at the top of search results related to the election, as well as videos below that talked about the election, but allowed some videos with misinformation to remain online without labeling or verifying them.