Josh Hawley Challenges Zuckerberg to Address Censorship at Facebook

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 19: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walks to a meeting with Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) on September 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. Zuckerberg also met with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to discuss internet regulation. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) challenged Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday to address political censorship on his platforms and open up Facebook to increased competition. Zuckerberg declined.

Sen. Hawley met with Zuckerberg Thursday afternoon to discuss issues relating to political bias on Facebook’s content moderation processes, their bulk collection of Americans’ private data, and their dominance on the Internet.

The Missouri senator urged Zuckerberg to take two actions Thursday: sell its Instagram and WhatsApp subsidiaries and submit to an independent, third-party audit on its censorship practices. The Facebook CEO rejected Sen. Hawley’s suggestions.

“Just finished meeting w @facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Had a frank conversation. Challenged him to do two things to show FB is serious about bias, privacy & competition. 1) Sell WhatsApp & Instagram 2) Submit to independent, third-party audit on censorship. He said no to both,” Hawley said.

Also during the meeting with Hawley, Zuckerberg admitted a “clear bias” in the way Facebook handled pro-life organization Live Action.

“Zuckerberg admitted there “clearly was bias” in the @LiveAction @LilaGraceRose censorship. Said bias is “an issue we’ve struggled with for a long time,” the senator added.

Sen. Hawley has slammed Facebook for its political censorship practices in the past, which include a “political bias review” conducted by former Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Kyl’s report found that “Facebook’s policies and their application have the potential to restrict free expression” and that “this is a danger that must be taken very seriously.”

Sen. Hawley said in August that the social media platform should submit its algorithms and its content moderation protocols to a trusted third party for auditing.

“Merely asking somebody to listen to conservatives’ concerns isn’t an ‘audit,’ it’s a smokescreen disguised as a solution,” Hawley charged in August. “Facebook should conduct an actual audit by giving a trusted third party access to its algorithm, its key documents, and its content moderation protocols. Then Facebook should release the results to the public.”

Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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