Senators Blast Big Tech 'Robber Barons' for Election Interference
Republicans expose Facebook and Twitter for coordinating their censorship.
Facebook and Twitter CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey appeared virtually on Capitol Hill for a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and the two faced significant criticism from Republicans over the speech-squelching practices of their respective social media platforms. What has become patently clear, all semantics aside, is that neither CEO has any intention of truly moving away from censorship.
In an exchange between Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Zuckerberg, Hawley noted the existence of the “Task” platform, wherein he asserted that “Facebook censorship teams can communicate with their counterparts at Twitter and Google” to “coordinate their censorship efforts.” Hawley then asked, “Let me ask you directly under oath, now: Does Facebook coordinate its content moderation policies or efforts in any way with Google or Twitter?” Zuckerberg refused to give a direct answer, only claiming, “I would expect some level of communication probably happens. That’s different from coordinating what our policies are or our responses in specific instances.” Hawley warned that he could subpoena the information from these modern “robber barons.”
Hawley’s pointed question is significant from the standpoint of making the argument that Facebook, Twitter, and Google, while distinct companies, are running afoul of anti-trust laws for essentially acting as one coordinated entity monopolizing the industry. The more it can be proven that Big Tech companies are working in concert, the more potent the charge of anti-trust violation becomes.
Meanwhile, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) effectively hit Dorsey on the crucial free speech question: Are social media companies platforms or publishers? After noting Twitter’s censoring and freezing of the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story, which Dorsey now (sort of) admits was wrong (because it actually boosted attention), Cruz pointedly asked, “Is Twitter a publisher?” Dorsey responded, “No, we are not. We distribute information.” Cruz continued, “So what is a publisher?” Dorsey replied, “An entity that is publishing under editorial guidelines and decisions.” Cruz countered that Dorsey’s definition was “contrary to the federal statute, particularly Section 230.”
Later, Cruz asked Dorsey, “Does voter fraud exist?” Dorsey answered, “I don’t know for certain.” Cruz wondered, “Why, then, is Twitter now putting purported warnings on voter fraud?” Dorsey, clearly obfuscating, answered, “That link is pointing to a broader conversation with tweets from publishers and people all around the country.” Cruz then blasted, “No, no you’re not. You put up a page that says, quote, ‘Voter fraud of any kind is exceedingly rare in the United States.’ That’s not linking to a broader conversation, that’s taking a disputed policy position, and you’re a publisher when you’re doing that.”
Cruz then drove home the issue, stating, “You’re entitled to take a policy position, but you don’t get to pretend you’re not a publisher and get a special benefit under Section 230 as a result.”
Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) exposed the degree of internal political bias within Facebook and Twitter after highlighting a post from Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, that had been censored by both social media platforms. Both Dorsey and Zuckerberg dubiously claimed that was done in error. “Maybe some of it has to do with your employees,” Lee asserted. After all, he said, “92.8% of Facebook employees who donated to federal candidates gave to Democrats. At Twitter, it’s even more stark than that, as if it could get more stark — 99.3% of Twitter employees who gave to federal candidates gave to Democrats. These mistakes — they may be mistakes but they are mistakes that rhyme. They may not repeat themselves, but they rhyme. The consistent theme [of censorship] happens to be Republicans, conservatives, and pro-life activists.”
Of course, Senate Democrats continued to take issue with both Facebook and Twitter for not doing enough censoring. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) complained that merely marking President Donald Trump’s tweet about how 2.7 million votes for him were stolen as “disputed” was harmful because the claim was still visible. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) chastised Facebook for failing to ban Steve Bannon from its platform after it removed a post deemed offensive. Blumenthal ridiculously asserted, “How many times is Steve Bannon allowed to call for the murder of government officials before Facebook suspends his account?”
Finally, it’s clear that Big Tech catered to the Democrats’ demands following their loudly voiced and dubious complaints that disinformation on social media led to Trump’s 2016 victory. Zuckerberg chillingly noted, “We partnered with election officials to remove false claims about polling conditions and displayed warnings on more than 150 million pieces of content after review by our independent third-party fact-checkers. We put in place strong voter-suppression policies prohibiting explicit or implicit misrepresentations about how or when to vote as well as attempts to use threats related to COVID-19 to scare people into not voting.”
The takeaway for conservatives from this ongoing Big Tech circus is that this abuse of our free speech won’t end. The best advice we can give is to get off these platforms and look toward others like Parler and MeWe that are specifically standing on the principle of free speech. Only a mass exodus from Big Tech has any hope of forcing these social media giants to change their ways.