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Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively


The repressive objective of the Democratic-controlled Congress is to transfer the power to police and censor political discourse from these tech giants to themselves.

By Glenn Greenwald | 26 March 2021

GLENN GREENWALD — Over the course of five-plus hours on Thursday, a House Committee along with two subcommittees badgered three tech CEOs, repeatedly demanding that they censor more political content from their platforms and vowing legislative retaliation if they fail to comply. The hearing — convened by the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), and the two Chairs of its Subcommittees, Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) — was one of the most stunning displays of the growing authoritarian effort in Congress to commandeer the control which these companies wield over political discourse for their own political interests and purposes.

As I noted when I reported last month on the scheduling of this hearing, this was “the third time in less than five months that the U.S. Congress has summoned the CEOs of social media companies to appear before them with the explicit intent to pressure and coerce them to censor more content from their platforms.” The bulk of Thursday’s lengthy hearing consisted of one Democratic member after the next complaining that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google/Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey have failed in their duties to censor political voices and ideological content that these elected officials regard as adversarial or harmful, accompanied by threats that legislative punishment (including possible revocation of Section 230 immunity) is imminent in order to force compliance (Section 230 is the provision of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that shields internet companies from liability for content posted by their users). […]

4 Comments on Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively

  1. I generally like Greenwald’s writing and have no reason to doubt his sincerity — but he includes the following text:

    Dorsey, by contrast, seemed at the end of his line of patience and tolerance for vapid, moronic censorship demands, and — sitting in a kitchen in front of a pile of plates and glasses — he, refreshingly, barely bothered to hide that indifference. At one point, he flatly stated in response to demands that Twitter do more to remove “disinformation”: “I don’t think we should be the arbiters of truth and I don’t think the government should be either.”

    I do not have a FB account and rarely visit the site since unfettered reading without logging-in is impossible — I know Google censorship mostly from what they do on YouTube.

    But here Greenwald implies that Dorsey and Twitter minimally and only reluctantly censor, which as I’ve pointed out in a number of comments is false — via their vague/malleable ToS, in fact Twitter viciously censors certain kinds of political content (but not explicit pornography, including video clips); a recent purge was particularly brutal, eliminating literally every one of the dozens of ‘alt’ timelines I viewed.


    • I believe these execs are pulling a good cop (them) bad cop (Congress) routine. They are openly threatened with sanctions in the hearings. Thus they act as if they are responding to this pressure. But this is all a performance, and an act.

  2. Twitter/mjs_DCClarence Thomas suggests that social media companies may NOT have a First Amendment right to regulate speech on their platforms, analogizing them to “common carriers” and “places of public accommodation.”

    The paranoid gay Jew (“I am a gay Jew in Trump’s America. And today, I am afraid for my life.”) who writes for Slate doesn’t seem too happy about the prospect of social media companies not being allowed to censor content at whim/will in the future — from the same Twitter thread (link): I am confident that Clarence Thomas’ rallying cry for legislation overriding social media companies’ First Amendment rights and forcing them to host speech is *entirely* about right-wing fears that Twitter, Facebook, etc. are censoring conservative speech.

    Of course it’s not about ‘fear’, but pervasive overt censorship, as any honest person familiar with the content practices of social media platforms over the last 5 years or so ought to be able to admit — it’s really disgusting that dishonest, sexually aberrant freaks like this guy are helping set the media tone for what is and is not acceptable speech on the internet.

    This seems to be about the following case:


    See starting pg 10 of the linked PDF — I’m not familiar with this specific case, but reading the first few paragraphs it’s related to the earlier Trump Twitter ruling, where Trump was not allowed to block other Twitter users from following his (long established personal) account and replying to his tweets.

    I should note: Greenwald is also a gay Jew.

    • >it’s related to the earlier Trump Twitter ruling

      Info here — link

      The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a case over former President Donald Trump’s efforts to block critics from his personal Twitter account. … The court said there was nothing left to the case after Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter and ended his presidential term in January. … The court also formally threw out an appeals court ruling that found Trump violated the First Amendment whenever he blocked a critic to silence a viewpoint. … The case had been styled Trump v. Knight First Amendment Institute, the group that originally sued to challenge Trump’s decision to block his critics. … But when Trump left office, President Joe Biden replaced Trump in the case’s title, though the new president had nothing to do with the lawsuit.

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