Conservatives push to discredit tech platforms before election

Ted Cruz accused the tech platforms of 'actively interfering in this election'

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The Senate Commerce committee is set to grill the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google on Wednesday amid right-wing accusations of political bias and threats to change a critical law, known as Section 230, that protects the three tech giants’ ability to moderate content as they see fit.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies via video conference during the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law hearing on Online Platforms and Market Power in the Rayburn House office Building, July 29, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee was scheduled to hear testimony from the CEOs of Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google. (Photo by Graeme Jennings-Pool/Getty Images)

Outside experts have found little evidence to support claims of widespread partisanship on the social media platforms. Still, the conservative allegations are damning claims just days ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

Read More: Facebook will suspend all political ads the day after Election Day

In addition to the Commerce Committee looking to put the tech execs in the hot seat, the Senate Judiciary Committee also wants in on the action. Last Thursday, Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans voted to authorize subpoenas for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that would force them to testify about conservative censorship. No Democrats participated in the vote to compel their testimony.

Sen. Ted Cruz accused the tech platforms of “actively interfering in this election in a way that has no precedent in the history of our country.”

“Twitter and Facebook and Big Tech billionaires don’t get to censor political speech and actively interfere in the election,” Cruz said. “That’s what they’re doing right now.”

According to CNN, Google and Twitter did not comment for their story, but Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said the company has faced equal criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Stone said Republicans accused Facebook of being biased against conservatives and Democrats accused the company of not taking more steps to restrict the exact same content.

“We have rules in place to protect the integrity of the election and free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially,” Stone said.

Read More: Twitter suspends fake accounts posing as Black Trump supporters

Experts including political scientists and media expert, Shannon McGregor, who is also an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina said the GOP’s efforts to discredit social media companies is similar to how it has politicized executive agencies, cast aspersions on federal inspectors general and violated longstanding political norms over judicial appointments and confirmations.

McGregor said, “If you undermine those institutions that can provide a check on your power, then power is unlimited.” She added, “Then that’s not a democracy.”

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