Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, rebuked the CEOs of Facebook, Google, and Twitter for their abuse of power and stifling of free speech at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on censorship Thursday.
“Your companies have enormous control over whose ideas are seen, read, or heard around the world. This gives you great power – and if misused, as we have seen in the recent years, your actions have ripple effects throughout the world that result in American voices being removed from the marketplace of ideas,” the Ohio representative said.
Latta was addressing CEOs Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who are all testifying today after House Republicans sent letters to the tech moguls demanding accountability and transparency on censorship practices.
A major topic on the agenda pertains to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The policy allows for social media platforms to not be treated as publishers of content on their websites, leading to a lack of protection for political speech viewed as deviating from preferences of the platforms.
Prior to the hearing, a spokeswoman for Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La told The Federalist that the congressmen supports an alteration to Section 230.
“Unless Section 230 is changed, there is no protection of political speech or limit to the censorship conservatives will face in the future,” Scalise’s spokeswoman said.
“I am deeply concerned by your decisions to operate your companies in a vague and biased manner, with little to no accountability, while using Section 230 as a shield for your actions and their real-world consequences,” Latta said in the hearing.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claimed that Twitter “believes in free expression” during the hearing, but simultaneously that speech must be prohibited that is arbitrarily defined as sowing “disinformation.”
“We believe in free expression,” Dorsey said. “At the same time, we must balance that with our desire for our service not to be used to sew confusion, disinformation, or destruction”
The hearing continues this afternoon, as Republicans seek to grill the CEOs on their continued censorship of conservative voices on the internet.