The GOP push against Facebook and Twitter accelerated Thursday after Republican senators threatened the CEOs of the social media companies with subpoenas to force them to address accusations of censorship in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign.
With Democrats boycotting the hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the legal orders if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey did not agree to testify voluntarily.
The committee wants to hear from them about “the suppression and/or censorship of two news articles from the New York Post,” according to the subpoena document.
Senators also want information from the executives about their companies’ policies for moderating content “that may interfere” with federal elections.
A Facebook spokesperson declined comment. Twitter representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook and Twitter acted last week to limit the online dissemination of a story from the New York Post that targeted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
The story cited unverified emails from Biden’s son Hunter that were reportedly disclosed by President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
One email purported to show a top adviser for Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden held a board seat, thanking Biden for giving him an opportunity to meet Joe Biden, who was vice president at the time.
It was the first time in recent memory that the two social media platforms censored a story from an establishment media publication.
Facebook has expanded its restrictions on political advertising, including new bans on messages claiming widespread voter fraud. Trump has warned of the possibility of fraud in the vote-by-mail process.
Conservatives have stepped up their claims that Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, are biased, accusing the social media platforms of deliberately suppressing conservative views.
The Justice Department has asked Congress to roll back legal protections for online platforms.
Trump signed an executive order this year challenging the protections from lawsuits under a 1996 telecommunications law.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on a bipartisan vote, recently authorized subpoenas for Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
The three have agreed to testify for a hearing planned for next week.
Democrats have focused their criticism of social media on misinformation and other content that they say can incite violence or keep people from voting. They have criticized the CEOs for failing to police content.
The companies have come under increasing scrutiny in Washington and from state attorneys general over issues of competition, consumer privacy and hate speech.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a landmark antitrust case against Google, accusing it of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to boost profits.
It was the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since the groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.
Facebook, Amazon and Apple also have been targets of antitrust investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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