Cruz Delivers Tough Questions to Zuckerberg Over Anti-Conservative Bias


Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the congressional hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” on Tuesday.

During the hearing, the forty senators, representing the judiciary and commerce committees, were given four minutes each to question Zuckerberg.

The conservative Texas senator asked the Facebook CEO pointed questions about Facebook’s political standpoint and the possible censorship of conservative views on the social media platform.

“Does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?” Cruz asked. “Are you a First Amendment speaker expressing your views or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?”

Zuckerberg responded saying that there is certain content that is not allowed — hate speech, terrorist content, nudity — and that they refer to themselves as “a platform for all ideas.”

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The senator pressed again, saying that it is a “simple question” whether or not Facebook is “engaged in political speech which is (their) right under the First Amendment.”

The Facebook CEO said that though the company’s “goal is certainly not to engage in political speech,” he was “just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.”

Cruz then told Zuckerberg that there are many Americans who are concerned about Facebook’s political bias in what they show on their platform.

“There have been numerous instances with Facebook in May of 2016 as Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from conservative news,” the senator pointed out. These stories include ones about CPAC, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul.

As Cruz pointed out, Facebook also had blocked a post from a Fox News reporter and “over two dozen” Catholic pages. Conservative commentators “Diamond and Silk” were deemed by Facebook to be “unsafe to the community.”

“This is actually a concern that I have, and that I try to root out at the company — is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” Zuckerberg responded. “I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”

Cruz then pressed back asking if any ads had been taken down from Planned Parenthood or, to which Zuckerberg admitted that he was “not specifically aware of” any circumstances in which the company had done so.

Donald Trump Jr. commented on the exchange on Twitter.

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Cruz finished up his round of questioning by asking Zuckerberg about the political orientation of Facebook’s employees.

“We do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company,” Zuckerberg replied, and would not speak to why Palmer Luckey — who supported a group that made anti-Hillary Clinton memes — was fired. “I can commit that it was not because of a political view.”

Last month, The Western Journal reported that conservative publishers have lost an average of nearly 14 percent of their traffic from Facebook after its most recent algorithm change.

Liberal publishers, on the other hand, gained about 2 percent more web traffic from Facebook than they were getting prior to the algorithm changes implemented in early February.

The testimony is set to continue Wednesday when the embattled CEO will address members of the energy and commerce committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith