Commerce Committee hearing on Section 230- Nobody was prepared

In another move against the big tech, U.S. Senate Republicans have targeted Twitter and Facebook CEOs on the issue of moderation. Recently, both platforms restricted a New York Post article, tagging it as ‘potentially harmful.’

The Senate has issued subpoenas to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Facebook chairperson and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about the restrictions on the article. While it’s okay for the senate to demand a hearing, Republicans are simply trying to roughhouse the big tech with this one.

It’s About The NY Post Article

Let’s start from the beginning on this one. A few days ago, a controversial New York Post article was restricted by Facebook and Twitter. While Facebook limited the spread of the article, Twitter restricted users from sharing its link.

The article was reportedly based on content from Hunter Biden’s (Joe Biden’s son) laptop and claimed to be a “smoking Gun,” accusing the Biden family of corruption. Twitter restricted it because of a policy that demands it to prohibit the direct distribution of content obtained through hacking, containing private information.

Republicans Issue Subpoenas To Twitter, Facebook

We say Republicans instead of the senate because Democrats boycotted the proceedings. However, the Republicans went ahead with sending subpoenas to Twitter and Facebook CEOs, Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg. The motion was put forward by Senator Lindsey Graham.

The subpoenas call both the CEOs to testify before the committee about the following points:

  • The suppression and/or censorship of two news articles from the New York Post titled “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad” and “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm.”
  • Any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office.
  • Any other recent determinations to temporarily reduce the distribution of material pending fact-checker review and/or block and mark material as potentially unsafe.

At first glance, one can clearly tell that the subpoena is directly addressing the increasing censorship on Republican claims by Facebook and Twitter. It can be traced all the way back to Twitter putting President Trump’s tweets up for fact-checking.

The U.S. Government Vs. Big Tech

The past few months have seen multiple clashes between the U.S. government and big tech firms like Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

A recent report found many of the big tech companies in violation of antitrust laws. Google is now facing an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice.

Now, Facebook and Twitter CEOs have been summoned to testify on the matter. Rhett Jones from Gizmodo rightly pointed out in his article that both Zuckerberg and Dorsey will be appearing before the Senate commerce committee next week. That would’ve been an appropriate time to ask the duo about the NY Post article. But Republicans have called for a separate meeting altogether.

While scrutiny is needed to maintain a free market, the government should also be responsible in the way it does so. Calling separate hearings for issues such as this one is a duplication of efforts at best.

Manik Berry
With a Master’s degree in journalism, Manik writes about big tech and has a keen eye for political-tech news. In his free time, he’s browsing the Kindle store for new stuff read. Manik also adores his motorcycle and is looking for new routes on weekends. He likes tea and cat memes. You can reach him at [email protected]