Republican Sen. Ted Cruz savaged Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s tendency to shut down and silence conservatives and conservative ideas in a hearing on Tuesday.
Cruz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook considered itself a “neutral public forum,” making the Silicon Valley billionaire squirm.
“Senator, we consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas,” Zuckerberg replied. “Our goal is certainly not to engage in political speech.”
Cruz proceeded to list a number of conservative Facebook pages that had faced censorship from the social network.
Here are a few highlights from their exchange.
Cruz: “There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship. There have been numerous instances with Facebook. In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported Facebook had purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news — including stories about CPAC, about Mitt Romney, about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the Chik-fil-A appreciation page, blocked posts of a Fox News reporter, blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community.'”
“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?”
Zuckerberg: “I understand where that concern is coming from, because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. This is actually a concern that I have in that I — and I try to root out in the company, is making sure we don’t have any bias in the work we do and I think it is a fair concern that people would wonder about.”
Cruz: “Are you aware of any ad or page that’s been taken down from Planned Parenthood?”
Zuckerberg: “Senator, I’m not, but let me just …”
Cruz: “How about MoveOn.org? Or any Democratic candidate from office?”
Zuckerberg: “I’m not specifically aware. I’m not sure.”
Cruz: “In your testimony you say you have 15,000 to 20,000 people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaged in content review?”
Zuckerberg: “No, we do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company.”
Cruz: “Do you feel it’s your responsibility to assess users, whether they are good and positive connections or ones that those 15,000 to 20,000 people deem unacceptable or deplorable?”
Zuckerberg: “I think there are a number of things we all agree are clearly bad. Foreign interference in elections. Terrorism. Self-harm.”
Cruz: “I’m talking censorship.”
Zuckerberg: “You would probably agree that we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. We want to get that done and we’re proud of how well we do with that. What I can say, and I do want to get this in — I’m very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.”