Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas derided Google executives in House hearings this week, following two bombshell reports from Project Veritas detailing Google’s alleged efforts to suppress conservative content as the 2020 election cycle begins to ramp up.
Complete with undercover video and leaked insider documents, the reports, released Monday and Tuesday respectively, showcased what appeared to be efforts by Google employees to manipulate their algorithm in the interest of hurting President Donald Trump’s web-based 2020 campaign efforts.
The leaked documents also revealed a conversation in which prominent conservative figures Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson were reportedly labeled “nazis” by members of an ethics and transparency team at Google. The team allegedly discussed how best to keep their content from reaching wider audiences by “disabling” them in the “suggestion” feature.
During a House hearing on homeland security and social media Wednesday, Crenshaw cornered Google Global Director of Information Policy Derek Slater on these developments, attacking not only the company’s “vague” standards for dangerous content but also the “disturbing” foundations of their decision-making.
“There’s good questions on whether some of this content provides education so that we know of the bad things out there or whether it’s radicalizing people. Those are hard discussions to have and I don’t think we are going to solve them today,” the Texas Republican said. “But the problem is that the testimony doesn’t stop there.”
“It doesn’t stop with the clear cut lines of terrorism and terrorist videos and terrorist propaganda … It goes much further than that. It goes down the slippery slope of what speech is appropriate for your platform and the vague standards that you employ in order to decide what is appropriate,” he added.
Video of the exchange was later posted on Twitter by Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe — the self-proclaimed “guerilla journalist” in part responsible for the famous 2009 ACORN tapes.
.@RepDanCrenshaw Grills Google Exec Derek Slater over LEAKED Google email — CRENSHAW: “According to those emails, the emails say, given that @benshapiro, @jordanbpeterson and @pragerU are Nazis, given that that’s a premise, what do we do about it?” LEAK: https://t.co/1PzIA1Ac5Q pic.twitter.com/1reD69ctPT
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) June 26, 2019
Crenshaw proceeded to rail against the technology company, demanding to know “what kind of education people at Google have” to suggest that mainstream conservative content producers — including several devout Jews — were “Nazis” worthy of the suppression that comes with being labelled a dangerous content producer.
“Labeling mainstream conservative media as Nazis is a premise upon which you operate. It’s not even a question,” Crenshaw said. “According to those emails, the emails that, given that Ben Shapiro, Jordan Peterson and Dennis Prager are Nazis, given that that’s a premise, what do we do about it?”
“Three of three of these people had family members killed in the Holocaust. Ben Shapiro is the number target of the alt-right, and yet you people operate off the premise that he is a Nazi. It’s pretty disturbing,” Crenshaw added.
“Two of three of these people are Jewish, very religious Jews,” he added. “And yet you think they are Nazis. It begs the question: What kind of education people at Google have to think that religious Jews are Nazis?”
As questioning proceeded, Slater was unable to provide concrete responses for any individual instances of hate speech or “nazi” support from the aforementioned figures — simply claiming that Google makes such decisions by evaluating each “individual piece of content based on that content rather than based on the speaker.”
“I can say that our fact check labels generally are done algorithmically based on a mark-up and follow-up on our policies,” Slater added, once again leaning on the verifiably false claim that such censorship-related decisions are never made manually.
This toeing of the company line did not, however, satisfy Crenshaw, who yielded his time, expressing immense fear that left with the decision to either protect the public discourse with their platform or tear the country apart to meet their political ends, Google would choose the latter.
“Listen here, here’s what it comes down to. If we don’t share the values of free speech, I’m not sure where we go from here. You know, this practice of silencing millions and millions of people, it will create wounds and divisions in this country that we can not heal from.” Crenshaw said.
“This is extremely worrisome.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.