House Holds 'Stupid And Ridiculous' Hearing About Big Tech

Two weeks ago, Senate Republicans criticized Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook policies that supposedly censor conservative material.

This morning, the House Judiciary Committee followed up with a hearing about whether Facebook, Google and Twitter suppress speech by blocking users -- particularly those with right-wing opinions.

What transpired was "stupid and ridiculous." That's according to Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California), who chimed in after nearly two hours of testimony, during which conservative personalities "Diamond and Silk" repeatedly claimed they had been blocked by Facebook.

"This is a stupid and ridiculous hearing," Lieu said. 

Lieu added that there was a "fundamental problem" with the hearing: The First Amendment prohibits the government from censoring speech, but doesn't prevent private companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter from deciding what to publish.

Lieu then entered into an exchange with Berin Szoka, president of the libertarian organization TechFreedom, who was one of the witnesses.

"We don't tell Fox News what to filter, right?"

Szoka answered in the affirmative.

"And we can't tell Facebook what content to filter ... right?"

Szoka again answered affirmatively.

"We can't force Facebook to carry Diamond and Silk if they choose not to, isn't that right?" Lieu asked.

"Correct," Szoka said.

"I've seen places that regulate content on the internet and the media," Lieu added. "North Korea, Russia, Iran. We don't want to be like that."

But some other lawmakers appeared aggrieved by tech companies' filtering policies.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), who opposes abortion rights, again complained that she was briefly prevented by Twitter from running an election video-ad that the company deemed inflammatory.

"Last October, Twitter blocked my campaign launch video from its ads platform, due to my pro-life message," she said in her written testimony. "This ban threatened the fundamental freedom to engage in political speech."

Although Blackburn and other Republicans have suggested that they were victims of liberal bias, one witness at today's hearing -- New York Law School professor Ari Waldman -- debunked the notion that tech companies are inclined to suppress conservative speech.

"Lots of content gets filtered out, but no more so from the right than from the left," he said in his written testimony.

"When victims of racist, homophobic, and sexist tweets and comments post those comments to call out the aggressors, it is often the victims that are suspended or banned," he stated. "Activists associates with the Black Lives Matter movement have reported just as many if not more take downs of images discussing racism and police brutality than any of the anecdotal evidence of suspensions or take downs on the right."

5 comments about "House Holds 'Stupid And Ridiculous' Hearing About Big Tech".
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  1. Jeff Martin from IMF, April 27, 2018 at 10:18 a.m.

    It's not a problem with businesses I have where they take political actions as they own their platforms and can do what they want. I DO have a problem when they lie about it or try to hide it. Stand by your decision, don't be devious.

    Facebook's trending news team had to be fired as they were burying (censoring) consverative news. Was fine, till it was exposed.

    Then theres the video capturing the YouTuber, who manages trending news visibility, collaborating with the NY Times as to what should be most visible and what should not, based on their political agenda.

    Diamond and Silk is not the same thing. FB made a decision and stand by it. Doesn't make that right, but it's their platform. When actions are taken to bury someones voice then it should be a decision a business publicly stands by. Own it.

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 27, 2018 at 10:52 a.m.

    One can only imagine the reaction in Congress is a pro-Obama site was blocked by Facebook.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston replied, April 27, 2018 at 10:56 a.m.


  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 27, 2018 at 11:03 a.m.

    They are not conservative any more. They are filled with hate, death and destruction towards people who are not white and protestant (or at least believe in christian legends). And that's the rub. You can express your beliefs although when threats and hate speech are attached, the problems begin. All media have the authorization to remove it regardless of political fantasy. 

  5. Jeff Martin from IMF replied, April 27, 2018 at 11:08 a.m.

    Wow. Bias much on conservatives? Just because someone says something that someone else disagrees with doesn't automatically make it hate speech.

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