WASHINGTON: On Wednesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took part virtually in a US House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust laws and competition.
During a Wednesday US House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing, Republican Lawmaker Jim Jordan accused giant tech companies of targeting and attempting to silence what he characterized as “conservative” voices.
“I’ll just cut to the chase: Big Tech is out to get conservatives,” Jordan said during opening remarks at the hearing. “That’s not a hunch, that’s not a suspicion, that’s a fact.”
The hearing, attended online by Google’s Sundar Pichai, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, saw the GOP representative list incidents in which certain content on social media was taken down, and alleged a bias against conservatives – including incidents of misinformation about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that was rejected by the World Health Organization.
Jordan suggested that on one occasion, the Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, claimed that the removal of Republican content is “just a glitch”, arguing that there is an active, systemic censorship of conservative voices.
“If I had a nickel for every time I heard it was just a glitch, I wouldn’t be as wealthy as our witnesses, but I’d be doing all right,” The Ohio Republican quipped.
Jordan further alleged that attempts by social media platforms to take down conservative voices are occurring in an election year, pointing to the Twitter platform censoring a June tweet from US President Donald Trump in which he said his administration would not allow anti-police violence protesters to form an autonomous protest zone in Washington DC. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was not present at the hearing.
“We’re 97 days before an election, and the power – as the previous chairman and ranking member have said – the power these companies have to impact what happens during an election, what American citizens get to see before their voting, is pretty darn important,” Jordan said. “If it doesn’t end, there have to be consequences”.
Earlier in the day, Trump commented on the hearing taking place in the House of Representatives, saying to reporters, “There’s no question that what the big tech companies are doing is very bad”.
Tech companies have been repeatedly accused of a bias against conservative voices, with Trump – who has been consistently confronted by social media polices as his content is either removed or receives warning notices – claiming that the popular social media platforms are controlled by “the Radical left”, while accusing the hugely-profitable and publicly-traded firms of trying to “interfere” in the 2020 presidential election.
Over the recent weeks, tensions between the Republican president and tech companies have been high, after Twitter flagged a handful of POTUS tweets as “potentially misleading” and “glorifying violence”, and placed “fact-check” and “public interest” notes on the tweets. Trump’s content on other social media platforms, as well as content from his 2020 reelection campaign, has been subject to removal over copyright claims.
On May 28, Trump signed an executive order calling for a series of legislative and legal measures aimed at preventing social media platforms from moderating the content of their users.