Tuesday's HOT MIC

Tuesday's HOT MIC

Republicans in Congress Are Going to Investigate Facebook's Censorship of Conservatives

Not only are there Republicans who want to grill Mark Zuckerberg and Company over the way they're censoring conservative news on their website, they're not even golden boys like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee. When even John Cornyn and Susan Collins bring this issue up, it means there are a lot of Republicans with juice talking about it behind the scenes,

Social media giants that have acknowledged Russians exploited their platforms ahead of the 2016 election face renewed bipartisan demands to explain to Congress what they're doing to counter abuse of their networks ahead of this year's congressional midterms.

...Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana on Thursday urged Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley to call the CEOs or the policy makers of Facebook, Twitter and Google to the committee for another hearing "as opposed to the very able counsel who do a terrific job of what they're paid to do, which is dodging and bobbing and weaving."

...Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican and a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence panels, also said he'd want to hear from the tech companies on various topics—including how they monitor threats made on their platforms like ones that preceded the Parkland shooting.

"Social media's become just such a challenging issue for us. Now we've got social media throttling news on their own sites which is a form of censorship, which raises all sorts of issues...”

...(Susan) Collins added that she remains wary of the companies' power over content.

"You know, it's very tricky because in many cases they're deciding what stories should be trending, what stories should be disseminated and what stories shouldn't be. That's an awful lot of power for them to have," Collins said.

A year or two ago, senators talking about Facebook's attacks on conservative news sources might have done a lot of good. Unfortunately since then, Facebook's targeting of conservative pages has done a lot of damage (see here and here).  Still, better later than never and don't underestimate the importance of making these social media executives fear Republican retaliation. In a real sense, they are much more powerful than 10 or 20 news outlets combined and when they start picking and choosing which news people are allowed to see, it has the potential to shape our republic for decades to come.