Executives from some of the top internet companies online today will testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday regarding their social media practices, many of which have come under fire from conservatives who claim these companies are censoring speech they don’t like. Leaders from Facebook, Google, and YouTube will be among the executives to testify.
“The advent of social media has made it possible for people to connect across continents, explore vast amounts of information, and share meaningful dialogue with friends and strangers,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. “However, this same technology can be used to suppress a particular viewpoint and manipulate public opinion. I am pleased that the leading social media companies have agreed to send content management experts to answer questions on their content moderation practices and how they can be better stewards of free speech in the United States and abroad.”
The big tech companies in Silicon Valley have been censoring conservative content since they began taking control of the internet, but this past year has seen their practices jump from troubling to downright disturbing. Last month, Amazon cut Independent Journal-Review off from its marketplace program without any transparency as to why. Earlier this year, Facebook pulled something similar with pro-Trump personalities Diamond & Silk, a controversy that Mark Zuckerberg himself was forced to address in front of Congress in April.
And the list goes on.
YouTube censors anti-abortion videos from PragerU, even as they allow and reward pro-abortion videos that feature much of the same content, graphically speaking.
In January, an undercover journalist found that Twitter was proudly “shadow banning” conservative activists, meaning those pundits had no access to the site…and no idea that their posts were being hidden from view!
Earlier this summer, Google and Wikipedia were caught listing “Nazism” as one of the chief ideologies of the California Republican Party.
We’re sure that some of these stories have innocent explanations, but much of it comes about as a result of direct decisions. Maybe not from the executive level, but from a corporate culture that abhors conservatism, Republicans, and anything other than liberal groupthink. These employees censor and play unfairly with online content, simply because they live in a bubble where every conservative talking point is “hate speech.” That kind of value system may work in Berkeley, but it doesn’t work out in the real world. It should NOT be the ruling ideology on our social media platforms.
Maybe it would be a mistake for Congress to step in and take action against these companies – more regulation is seldom the right answer – but it’s nonetheless important to keep the pressure on. It’s important to put these executives under the hot lights, if only to let them know that they are being watched.