Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, told lawmakers on Thursday that the social media giant bears some responsibility for the spread of disinformation that preceded the attack on the U.S. Capitol in January.
Dorsey’s remarks, given at a hearing for subcommittees of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, were a stark contrast to those from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who denied that his company was responsible for the spread of inaccurate election-related information.
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle, a Democrat, asked Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai whether their companies bore responsibility “for disseminating disinformation related to the Stop the Steal movement that led to the attack on the Capitol.”
Hundreds of protesters at a “Stop the Steal” event in Washington, D.C. stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 as lawmakers were voting to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the election. President Donald Trump spoke at the “Stop the Steal” event that preceded the Capitol breach.
Zuckerberg initially dodged the question, as did Pichai.
“I think our responsibility is to build systems,” Zuckerberg began before Doyle cut him off.
Dorsey gave a more candid answer.
“Yes,” he said to Doyle’s question, adding, “but you also have to take into consideration the broader ecosystem. It’s not just about the technology platforms that we use.”
Doyle went on to accuse Facebook of not doing enough to crack down on content from groups that supported “Stop the Steal.” He said that the original group supporting the movement gained 350,000 followers in a single day, which the Democrat said was among the fastest in Facebook’s history.
Zuckerberg told Doyle that the responsibility for the riots “lies with the people who took the actions to break the law and do the insurrection.”
He also blamed Trump and others who he pushed the allegation that the election was stolen.
“I think that those people bear the primary responsibility,” Zuckerberg said.
Both Facebook and Twitter kicked Trump off of their sites shortly after the riots.
While election-related disinformation circulated on Facebook and Twitter, only the conservative-friendly social media site Parler faced significant blowback over the riots.
Google, Apple and Amazon all removed Parler from their platforms days after the riot.
Apple accused Parler of not doing enough to monitor “threats of violence and illegal activity.”
It has since emerged that rioters were more active on Facebook than on Parler.
As of Feb. 8, Facebook was mentioned in charging documents against 73 of the 223 people who had been arrested in connection with the riots, according to analysis by George Washington University.