(Headline USA) The GOP push against Facebook and Twitter accelerated Thursday after Republican senators voted to authorize subpoenas of the CEOs of the social media companies to force them to address accusations of censorship in the closing weeks of the presidential campaign.
With Democrats boycotting the hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee voted to authorize the legal orders if Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey did not agree to testify voluntarily.
The committee wants to hear from them about “the suppression and/or censorship of two news articles from the New York Post,” according to the subpoena document. Senators also want information from the executives about their companies’ policies for moderating content “that may interfere” with federal elections.
A Facebook spokesperson declined comment. Twitter representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
One email showed a top adviser for Burisma, the Ukraine gas company where Hunter Biden held a board seat, thanking Biden for giving him an opportunity to meet the elder Biden, who was vice president at the time.
It was the first time in recent memory that the two social media platforms enforced rules against misinformation on a story from a mainstream media publication.
The companies also have wrestled with how strongly they should intervene in speech on their platforms, but Facebook and Twitter have allowed articles from other outlets with far less substantiation than the Post story to be disseminated.
Conservatives have stepped up their claims — with much evidence — that Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, are biased, charging Silicon Valley’s social media platforms are deliberately suppressing conservative views.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation, on a bipartisan vote, recently authorized subpoenas for Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai. The three have agreed to testify for a hearing planned for next week.
Democrats have focused their criticism of social media mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content that they say can incite violence or keep people from voting — which are thinly veiled attempts to get the platforms to censor conservatives.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed a landmark antitrust case against Google, accusing it of abusing its dominance in online search and advertising to boost profits. It was the government’s most significant attempt to protect competition since the groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago.
Facebook, Amazon and Apple also have been targets of antitrust investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.