CCIA: White House 'Bias' Meeting Intended to Intimidate

Citing the reported White House meeting Thursday (July 11) at which conservatives are expected to air their issues with alleged Silicon Valley bias against them, the Computer & Communications Information Association called that a move to intimidate social media into favoring conservative speech.

CCIA says the meeting it troubling because "it’s always a concern when any government officials who have broad power to issue orders, investigations or regulations haul company officials in for a meeting to discuss 'bias'" and, in this case, it said the meeting "seems designed to intimidate companies to bias content in favor of whoever is calling the meeting."

CCIA President Ed Black came to the defense of Sec. 230, the Communications Decency Act, which allows social media sites to remove extremist speech without facing legal liability.

“Internet services depend on the legal certainty of the Telecom Act’s ‘Good Samaritan’ protections provided to companies to remove hate, extremism, and other objectionable content from the Internet," said Black. "As they do that, no private company should be browbeaten by the government into giving a pass to objectionable content that violates company policies."

Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has said that Facebook tries to weed out content that makes its community uncomfortable.

But conservatives, including the President, say social media sites are using that exemption to censor conservative speech.

Black suggested that if conservatives don't like the calls some social media sites are making, they can go elsewhere.

“Social media sites may wish to allow many types of speech, but should not be required to stay neutral on hate or religious intolerance," he said in a statement. "If those airing grievances at this week’s meeting are unsatisfied with one company’s policy against objectionable content, there are plenty of competitors from which to choose.”

Perhaps, but Facebook and Twitter, two targets of conservatives' ire, arguably have no competitive equals.

CCIA members include Facebook, Google and Amazon.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.