A US Congressman from Florida has filed a criminal referral against the CEO of Facebook. The referral is for lying to Congress under oath during two Congressional hearings in April of 2018. In that hearing Mark Zuckerberg told congress that there was no political bias in the censorship on Facebook. Recent revelations have proven that to be false and shown that Zuckerberg was intentionally misleading Congress.
Facebook was brought before Congress to answer for all kinds of problems facing the social media site. Twitter and Google were also brought in at the same time. The focus initially was a look into Russian meddling but during two days of testimony the CEO was asked ranging questions about political bias. Various Senators roasted the social media giants for obvious bias.
“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,”Senator Ted Cruz – April 2018
Today more than two years later Congressman Matt Gaetz has taken issue with the lies that were told. Recent confirmations and exposures have shown that Facebook did indeed engage in political bias. Not just a little bit but it’s been rampant and widespread. It also continues to this day, not just on Facebook but on all social networks.
“As a member of this body, I question Mr. Zuckerberg’s veracity, and challenge his willingness to cooperate with our oversight authority, diverting congressional resources during time-sensitive investigations, and materially impeding our work. Such misrepresentations are not only unfair, they are potentially illegal and fraudulent.”Congressman Matt Gaetz
The criminal referral is going to send shivers down the spines of silicon valley CEOs. Suddenly they will be considering their own legal exposure for what’s been taking place on their platforms. As public scrutiny grows over the obvious political bias on social media platforms, the companies leading the charge are going to have to answer for it. That first came in the form of a congressional hearing.
The lying about political bias in censorship is hardly a surprise. Conservatives, Republicans, and Christians have long warned about the targeted attacks they receive online. The selective censorship combined with the power of the social media companies puts much at risk. Freedom of expression is a critical keystone of the country is all about.
Twitter has been expanding it’s legal team as it moves into an uncertain future. Social media companies have been under intense scrutiny as they ride the line as a public platform while exercising editorial control. Twitter, Facebook, and others are at risk of losing special protections granted by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Critics have pointed out that Facebook, Twitter, Google and others have engaged in rampant censorship and implicit bias. All kinds of users, including President Donald Trump, have experienced hiding of their posts and accuracy warnings. Google is in a nasty spat with Zerohedge and The Federalist over demonetization from the Google Ads program, citing lack of moderated comments.
Section 230 immunity allows some online sites to exist as platforms and avoid responsibility for the content users post within. In exchange for acting as a utility and being open to everyone, they are granted protection from being liable for the content of their user’s posts. The immunity was meant to nurture emerging internet businesses and to overrule a judicial precedent that rendered online platforms liable for all third party content on their services if they restricted any harmful content at all.