Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the congressional hearing titled “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” on Tuesday.
During the hearing, the forty senators, representing the judiciary and commerce committees, were given four minutes each to question Zuckerberg.
The conservative Texas senator asked the Facebook CEO pointed questions about Facebook’s political standpoint and the possible censorship of conservative views on the social media platform.
“Does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?” Cruz asked. “Are you a First Amendment speaker expressing your views or are you a neutral public forum allowing everyone to speak?”
Zuckerberg responded saying that there is certain content that is not allowed — hate speech, terrorist content, nudity — and that they refer to themselves as “a platform for all ideas.”
The senator pressed again, saying that it is a “simple question” whether or not Facebook is “engaged in political speech which is (their) right under the First Amendment.”
The Facebook CEO said that though the company’s “goal is certainly not to engage in political speech,” he was “just trying to lay out how broadly I think about this.”
Cruz then told Zuckerberg that there are many Americans who are concerned about Facebook’s political bias in what they show on their platform.
“There have been numerous instances with Facebook in May of 2016 as Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from conservative news,” the senator pointed out. These stories include ones about CPAC, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul.
As Cruz pointed out, Facebook also had blocked a post from a Fox News reporter and “over two dozen” Catholic pages. Conservative commentators “Diamond and Silk” were deemed by Facebook to be “unsafe to the community.”
“This is actually a concern that I have, and that I try to root out at the company — is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” Zuckerberg responded. “I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”
Cruz then pressed back asking if any ads had been taken down from Planned Parenthood or MoveOn.org, to which Zuckerberg admitted that he was “not specifically aware of” any circumstances in which the company had done so.
Donald Trump Jr. commented on the exchange on Twitter.
Wow. Credit where credit is due, at least someone finally acknowledges the left wing bias at these social platforms. Now, the real questions is will they actually do anything about it? https://t.co/BjbxC9vqaN
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) April 10, 2018
Cruz finished up his round of questioning by asking Zuckerberg about the political orientation of Facebook’s employees.
“We do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company,” Zuckerberg replied, and would not speak to why Palmer Luckey — who supported a group that made anti-Hillary Clinton memes — was fired. “I can commit that it was not because of a political view.”
Last month, The Western Journal reported that conservative publishers have lost an average of nearly 14 percent of their traffic from Facebook after its most recent algorithm change.
Liberal publishers, on the other hand, gained about 2 percent more web traffic from Facebook than they were getting prior to the algorithm changes implemented in early February.
The testimony is set to continue Wednesday when the embattled CEO will address members of the energy and commerce committees in the U.S. House of Representatives.
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