Content moderation: in the United States, tech bosses in the sights of Republicans

Content moderation: in the United States, tech bosses in the sights of Republicans

The Capitol, seat of the US Congress, in Washington on March 1, 2022

The Capitol, seat of the US Congress, in Washington on March 1, 2022MANDEL NGAN © 2019 AFP

Elected officials sitting in the US Congress demand documents from the bosses of Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft on their content moderation.

Silicon Valley bosses were subpoenaed on Wednesday to produce documents about their content moderation by Republican lawmakers seeking to determine whether they acted in concert with the government to curtail free speech for conservatives, a conspiracy theory not proven.

The Republican-dominated House Judiciary Committee has demanded the CEOs of Google, Amazon, Apple, Meta and Microsoft produce numerous documents, including communications with the White House related to content moderation by March .

The commission “has repeatedly tried to engage the five companies since last December. Unfortunately, these companies have not responded adequately to our requests,” it said in a statement.

“Congress has an important role to play in protecting and promoting fundamental principles of free speech, including examining how private actors work with government to suppress speech protected by the First Amendment ( of the American Constitution which guarantees freedom of expression, Editor’s note)”, she adds.

Censorship under pressure from Democrats? No proof

Microsoft and Meta said for their part that they had already provided the required documents and cooperated with the commission in press releases.

These assignments are part of a broader offensive by elected Republicans, masters of the lower house since January, targeting Joe Biden, Silicon Valley, American intelligence and the progressive, so-called “woke” ideology of federal agencies. This fight is led in particular by the elected Republican Jim Jordan, loyal lieutenant of ex-President Donald Trump, at the head of the judicial commission.

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The House Investigations Committee last week grilled Twitter officials over the company’s decision, reversed in 2021, to limit the spread of an article by the New York Post who criticized the Democratic President’s son, Hunter Biden.

Hard-right lawmakers wanted to establish that social media censored under pressure from Democrats, but they got no evidence to back them up, with witnesses reporting, conversely, Republican pressure to remove some content.

The Trump administration had pushed for Twitter to remove an insulting post by model Chrissy Teigen, according to social network officials.

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