House GOP Leaders: Big Tech is Destructive Force

Facebook sign at HQ
(Image credit: Facebook)

Republican leadership in the House Energy & Commerce Committee are branding Big Tech a "destructive force" and  calling on Democratic committee leadership to hold a hearing immediately with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

Republicans have created a Big Tech Accountability agenda, a GOP platform guided by four principles: 1) transparency; 2) accountability; 3) consistency and objectivity; and competition.

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But since they don't control the gavel, those Republicans will need Democrat buy-in, which they were pushing for in a letter to House E&C chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). Signing on to the letter were new full committee ranking member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.); Communications Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (Ohio); Consumer Protection Subcommittee ranking member Gus Bilirakis (Fla.); and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member H. Morgan Griffith (Va.).

"Big Tech companies must take more seriously their significant role in our society to uphold free speech, to protect individual rights, and to safeguard our children from harm. They are failing us," they wrote. "Big Tech presents big challenges and we strongly believe many of the issues are bipartisan. As we work to hold Big Tech accountable, we should hear directly from these Big Tech CEOs. We urge you to invite these companies to come before our Committee so the American people can get answers."

The Republicans pointed out they made the same request of the House Democrats back in October, after the Senate held a hearing with the CEOs--no such hearing was called.

Democrats have issues with Big Tech, too, over things like privacy and security and potential anticompetitive effects of their size and power, but they argued the hearing in the then-Republican-controlled Senate was focused on conservative censorship accusations Democrats say are off base, an issue Democrats historically have not wanted to give any oxygen.

Also Read: Survey Finds Facebook Leading Misinformation Source

But for Republicans, the de-posting or flagging of some content on conservative Web sites and the banning of then-President Trump from Facebook and Twitter have raised the conservative bias claims to a new pitch.

House E&C Democrats have their own issues with the Big Three. Citing "deep concern," this week they fired of letters to Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Pichai as part of their investigation into their handling of COVID-19 information, or, more to the point, disinformation.

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.