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Sen. Hawley Joins Cruz in Google Attack

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) joined fellow Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Wednesday (June 17) in slamming Google for what they said is political censorship. 

That followed reports that Google threatened to "demonetize" The Federalist (not serve ads to the site) because it had not taken down certain posts in its comment section. Its publisher said it does not moderate those comments. 

Related: Sen. Cruz Hammers Google Over Comment Issue 

"Google’s decision to threaten the conservative publication The Federalist with removal from the Google Ads platform—based on, apparently, the contents of its comments section—is startling, but apparently just the latest instance of Google’s long pattern of targeting any perspectives that deviate from its preferred party line," Hawley wrote in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

"It is profoundly disingenuous for Google to insist on applying a standard to other companies that it disclaims for itself," Hawley told Pichai. "Google and other technology companies routinely rely on the protections afforded by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to evade responsibility for any third-party content posted on the platforms they offer. Now, Google apparently declines to extend a similar protection to those companies that rely on its own services. And the hypocrisy does not stop there: if the contents of a website’s comments sections are sufficient to declare that site offensive and banish it from Google’s platform, one wonders what to make of the cesspit that is the comments section of YouTube." 

Hawley is one of the Senate's most vocal critics of Big Tech. He introduced a bill Wednesday that would effectively eliminate a website's Sec. 230 immunity from civil liability by eliminating it unless they "update their terms of service to promise to operate in good faith." They would also agree to pay attorneys fees and $5,000 to each website user if it was proved they had violated that promise, which for some Big Tech giants would amount to billions of dollars.  

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.