Three tech and social media giants are scheduled to send their representatives to testify at a Senate hearing, following a string of accusations alleging that they foster a left-wing bias and routinely censor conservative voices.
Facebook’s public policy director Neil Potts will attend the hearing held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution next Wednesday, the company said. Twitter and Google are also expected to send their representatives to the event, entitled ‘Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse,’ The Hill reported, citing a source familiar with the issue.
The tech giants are likely to face some tough questions; the subcommittee’s panel is to be chaired by Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, who has already made his stance on the issue quite clear. “Big tech behaves like the only acceptable views are those on the far left,” Cruz said last week. “And any views to the contrary are suitable for censorship and silencing.”
The US social media companies have recently had to fight back against a series of accusations coming from Washington, and the White House in particular. In mid-March, Republican congressman Devin Nunes said he would file a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter over its alleged “explicit censorship” of conservatives.
Nunes accused the social network of “shadow-banning” right-leaning users, while refusing to take action against “abusive, hateful and defamatory” content from left-leaning users. Twitter refuted all accusations. However, it also soon announced that it would “label” messages that violate its rules but are still important for public discussion. The announcement prompted some US media to assume that President Donald Trump, who often uses the platform for fiery rants, might become one of the first to get “labeled.”
Trump himself, meanwhile, took issue with social media superpower Facebook, after it briefly gagged his social media chief. He also squarely accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of being “on the side of the Radical Left Democrats.”
Facebook, Google and Twitter, not to mention the Corrupt Media, are sooo on the side of the Radical Left Democrats. But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 19, 2019
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly dismissed accusations of liberal bias directed at the company. Grilled by Republican lawmakers on the topic last year, Zuckerberg claimed that their examples of censorship were once-off mistakes, but did admit that most of his employees probably lean leftwards, politically.
Surprisingly, Zuckerberg recently asked governments and regulators to tighten control over digital companies such as his own. At the same time, he seems to be pretty determined to keep control over what people should and should not read on the social network; he recently said he was considering hiring people to hand-pick “high-quality news” from “trusted outlets.”
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