During a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee about tech censorship, Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT) attacked the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook for not censoring enough conservative content, saying that the platforms had only taken “baby steps” to tackling “incendiary misinformation.”
“According to the internal records that are on record now, leaked by NBC News, Facebook has removed fact checks and forgiven infractions for conservative pages and pundits such as Breitbart, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Gateway Pundit, based on a fear of accusations of bias,” said Blumenthal.
Zuckerberg answered that the news reports mischaracterize Facebook’s actions. “What we do sometimes is apply some judgement on whether the repeat offender policies would render too harsh of a penalty, but that’s different from overturning a specific fact check, and it’s not done for the reasons that you said.”
“I’m very concerned that, in fact, Facebook seems to have a record of making accommodations and caving to conservative pressure,” claimed Blumenthal.
Contrary to Blumenthal’s claim, Facebook has censored Breitbart News on a number of occasions, including over a livestreamed news conference of medical professionals discussing COVID-19, and over the naming of alleged Ukraine whistleblower Eric Ciaramella.
Through its system of “third party fact checkers,” Facebook also empowers news organizations like Washington Post and USA Today to “fact check” the stories of their conservative and independent competitors, potentially causing them to be suppressed on the platform. Moreover, victims of erroneous or malicious fact-checks cannot appeal to Facebook, but to the fact checkers themselves.
Blumenthal also specifically called on Facebook to take down former White House official Steve Bannon’s account from the platform.
“I recognize the steps, they’re really baby steps, that you’ve taken so far, but destructive, incendiary misinformation is still a scourge on both your platforms, and on others,” said the Democrat senator earlier in the hearing.
“The recent actions you have taken, in fact, are simply to check the truth of what appears on platforms – often it is voter suppression and incendiary, malicious misinformation, and you’ve tried to slow its insidious spread,” said Blumenthal. “That’s not censorship. That’s moral and civic responsibility.”
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. His new book, #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election, which contains exclusive interviews with sources inside Google, Facebook, and other tech companies, is currently available for purchase.