Senate Commerce Committee Chairman (for a few more days) Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) wants Big Tech to pony up info on what he says has been their silencing of conservative users, saying it appeared to be politically biased censorship.
The most notable "silencing" in recent days was Twitter's and Facebook's permanent bans on President Donald Trump's social media accounts in the wake of the Capitol siege, and Amazon's de-platforming of conservative social media site Parler and Google and Apple's removal of the app from their online stores.
Wicker sent letters Friday to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
"In the wake of the fatal attack on the U.S. Capitol last week, social media companies made a series of decisions to restrict the use of their platforms and access to content," he wrote. "Although these decisions were initially targeted at preventing further violence, the restrictions expanded in the following days. The result was thousands of conservative users’ accounts and content being restricted or permanently removed from platforms and an entire platform being denied hosting services, causing it to shut down operations temporarily.
Among the questions he wants answered are:
1. "YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter recently took actions in what appeared to be a series of closely timed decisions. Did your company or employees coordinate or otherwise consult with the other platforms regarding restrictions or permanent bans on the accounts of any conservative users, content, or public figures? If so, how?
2. "What was the decision-making process around the removal or restriction of such accounts on your platform? Was this process consistent with your existing terms of service, community standards, or guidelines for the removal or restriction of accounts?
3. "What was the timeline for deciding to remove or restrict such accounts? Did you approve of those decisions at the time actions were taken?"
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.
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