Republicans dig into Facebook and Twitter over concerns of ‘conservative bias’

On Wednesday, a panel composed mainly of Republicans, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), presented representatives of Facebook and Twitter on concerns that the conservative discourse will be actively censored on both platforms.

Representatives of Facebook and Twitter confronted Republican lawmakers for hours at the Senate hearing where Cruz, the chairman of the constitutional panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pressured industry representatives for the deep concerns he and his colleagues have social media platforms to actively censor conservative political discourse. But all the evidence provided by the Republicans was anecdotal stories that company representatives could clearly explain by citing their respective content policies or investigations of specific takedowns.

In his opening statement, Cruz said: "Big Tech not only has the power to silence the voices with which they disagree, but Big Tech also has the power to collect a person's data so that only receive the news that accompanies your own political agenda. "

The full premise of the hearing, the conservative bias, was reprimanded by the highest ranking member of Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), who was one of only two Democrats who took their seat on the stand during the hearing. "We can not simply allow the Republican Party to harass technology companies to weaken content-moderation policies that no longer manage to eliminate hateful, dangerous and deceptive content," said Hirono. "If the curators have had their content removed, maybe they should look at the content they are publishing."

Last week, Republicans took up arms after the Twitter account for the pro-life movie, Unplanned was suspended from Twitter. Cruz, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Vice President Mike Pence were just a few conservatives who expressed concern over the suspension on Twitter. But shortly after the account was removed, Twitter re-established it, and in today's hearing, the director of public policy and philanthropy of Twitter, Carlos Monje, explained that the person who created the account Unplanned had Previously operated an account that had broken the rules of Twitter.

In his prepared testimony, Monje said: "The account was caught in our automated systems used to detect the evasion of the ban." The avoidance of the ban occurs when an individual registers for a new account despite having been previously suspended for violating our rules. "

The concern about the supposed conservative bias is not profound throughout the Republican party. Conservative groups more inclined to libertarian freedom, like Americans for Prosperity, have spent the last few days calling Republicans like Cruz on the premise of Wednesday's hearing.

"Senator Cruz is right: technology companies should provide an open platform to speak across the political and ideological spectrum, but ask the government monitoring online discourse, whether through direct action or coaxing private companies, sets a dangerous precedent that will undermine the essential elements of freedom of expression, "said Billy Easley, technology policy analyst for the group. of Conservative Defense Americans for Prosperity. in a sentence.

At the beginning of the hearing, Cruz suggested that this perceived bias could be remedied through changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, antitrust actions or charges to companies such as Facebook and Twitter for fraud, because Cruz suggested users who access these platforms are not aware that algorithms are "biases" to specific political opinions.

"If we prevent online platforms from eliminating objectionable content, we run the risk of turning online platforms into 8-Chan," said Carl Szabo, general counsel at NetChoice. "Section 230 was created specifically to allow private platforms to eliminate offensive content."

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