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WATCH: Social media executives testify on how algorithms affect discourse

Executives from major social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter appeared before a Senate Judiciary committee today to testify on how algorithms can impact discourse online.

Watch the hearing in the player above.

Among those who appeared were Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president for content policy; Lauren Culbertson, head of Twitter’s Public Policy team; and Alexandra Veitch, the public policy lead for the Americas at YouTube. Democratic lawmakers have signaled that they wanted to address the structural issues embedded in these platforms that can boost misinformation and become hubs for extremism.

Ahead of today’s hearing, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, the chair of subcommittee, told Politico that these large social media platforms “use algorithms that shape what billions of people read, watch and think every day, but we know very little about how these systems operate and how they’re affecting our society.” He said these algorithms are “amplifying misinformation, feeding political polarization and making us more distracted and isolated.”

Appearing alongside the executives were two experts: Tristan Harris, president and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, and Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy.