October 29, 2020

Senate Grills Big Tech for Censoring Conservatives

CEOs of Facebook, Twitter, and Google made it clear they have no intention of changing their ways.

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce Committee conducted a hearing on Big Tech’s increasing censorship practices. The CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, and Google testified, and two things became crystal clear during the often-heated exchanges.

First, Big Tech has absolutely no remorse over nor any plan to end its blatant censorship practices. This reality was hit home in a tense exchange between Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. After noting Twitter continues to lock the New York Post account over its bombshell story on Hunter Biden’s laptop, Cruz blasted, “Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear? Why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?”

Dorsey, whose long beard and long hair made him look as if he’s been living on the streets of San Francisco, dully responded, “We’re not doing that.” However, he then immediately contradicted himself: “We realize we need to earn trust more.” Later in the exchange, Cruz asked, “You’re testifying to this committee right now that Twitter, when it silences people, when it censors people, when it blocks political speech, that has no impact on elections?” Dorsey answered, “People have choice of other communication channels.” Cruz shot back, “Not if they don’t hear information. If you don’t think you have the power to influence elections, why do you block anything?”

Meanwhile, the Leftmedia has gone to bat for Big Tech, repeatedly arguing that since social media is dominated by conservative content, the conservative complaint of censorship is therefore a nonissue. It is not. We in our humble shop have seen our social media reach throttled by 80%. Whether conservatives have a greater presence on social media than the Left is an irrelevant and disingenuous objection to the issue of censorship. Censorship of free speech is still censorship of free speech, no matter how much or little is spoken.

Twitter still has not unlocked the New York Post account because, as Dorsey argued, the Post has not pulled its Hunter Biden story.

Republican senators noted that conservatives have been unfairly targeted for censorship by Big Tech, a charge that Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sought to deny. However, neither was able to provide even a single example of a “high-profile person or entity from a liberal ideology” who has been censored or throttled by their platforms. Zuckerberg sought to conflate the issue of protecting free speech with the “need” to prevent the spread of misinformation. “But there are certainly many issues on both sides of the aisle where people think we are making content-moderation decisions that they disagree with,” he asserted.

Which leads to the second issue. Senate Democrats were no less critical of Big Tech leadership than were Republicans, though for the exact opposite reason. Democrats contend that Twitter and Facebook have not done enough censoring of content they deem, in the words of Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), “dangerous and lethal misinformation and disinformation.” Blumenthal, himself the perpetrator of an autobiographical fiction about serving in Vietnam, once again trotted out the Democrats’ favorite and thoroughly debunked allegation of Russian election interference being responsible for President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory.

Democrats want more censorship of Americans’ speech in the name of fighting against “misinformation.” It’s a position that stands in blatant violation of the First Amendment. But since when has the Constitution ever been embraced by the Left?

The crux of the issue with Big Tech hangs on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) hit upon it by arguing, “This liability shield … has been pivotal in protecting online platforms from the endless and potentially ruinous lawsuits, but it has also given these internet platforms the ability to control, stifle, and even censor content in whatever manner meets their respective standards. The time has come for that free pass to end.”

In the end, it boils down to who wins in November. Should Joe Biden win and Democrats gain full control of Congress, Americans can kiss goodbye any hope of correcting Big Tech’s censorship abuses. Furthermore, Democrats will likely work to ensure that greater speech controls are imposed on Internet platforms, ironically all in the name of protecting Americans.

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