Rep. Ken Buck believes questioning big tech executives about their industry’s alleged conservative bias during a hearing devoted to Silicon Valley’s anti-competitive behavior is appropriate because he believes both issues are inextricably linked.
Google’s perceived bias against conservatives should be closely examined during Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, the Colorado Republican told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
If tech companies monopolize the industry and reduce the number of platforms, then they can also limit options for conservatives who worry tech companies are biased, he argued.
“If these platforms weren’t so large and dominant the bias issues would not be important,” he said.
“When you control the platform to such an extent and you have bias in the case of Facebook, for example, then you do have issues about freedom, so I think the bias and privacy issues are both related to the anti-competitive behavior,” he said, adding that, “it’s relevant because of the fact these platforms are so dominant.”
Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida asked Attorney General William Barr in a letter on Monday to investigate whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lied during his 2018 testimony when he said the social media empire doesn’t moderate the platform with users’ political ideology in mind.
Gaetz’s letter cites a Project Veritas video released in June that suggests Facebook moderators are filtering content supporting President Donald Trump.
“Their report revealed that the overwhelming majority of content filtered by Facebook’s AI program was content in support of President Donald Trump,” Gaetz wrote.
Facebook declined a request for comment regarding Gaetz’s letter, but the company has consistently denied claims that its moderation decisions are biased.
There are few options for conservatives who believe Facebook and other platforms are discriminating against them, Buck argues.
“What social interaction app rivals Facebook? Instagram? They own that. WhatsApp? They own that, too. So where in the marketplace do you go and say I don’t want to deal with Facebook? You can either go on Facebook or not go on Facebook,” Buck said.
“So the idea that Facebook should be broken up, the bias issue is definitely relevant to the size of the platform.”
Discussion about conservative bias could lead the hearing into disarray, according to Gigi Sohn, a distinguished fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law and Policy.
“The success of this hearing depends on having a laser-like focus on the power of these companies, how they act anticompetitively, what their impact is on democracy,” Sohn told The Washington Post Tuesday.
“If the hearing goes off in too many different directions … then it just becomes very confusing.”
Democrat and Republican lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee will question Zuckerberg alongside CEOs Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Sundar Pichai of Google on whether their companies violate federal antitrust laws.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal believes there’s ample evidence showing Bezos and the other executives are guilty of deploying anti-competitive techniques.
Google consistently accounts for roughly 90 percent of online information searches, Vox reported in May, citing Google Trends.
A 2018 DCNF report showed the company’s employees have expressed willingness to artificially manipulate search results on the platform.
The Wall Street Journal reported in April that Amazon used data from independent sellers to develop competing products.
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A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.
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