Netizen 24 GBR: Republican lawmakers go after Facebook CEO Zuckerberg for anti-conservative bias

By On April 11, 2018

Republican lawmakers go after Facebook CEO Zuckerberg for anti-conservative bias

Republican lawmakers go after Facebook CEO Zuckerberg for anti-conservative biasCLOSE

Representative Billy Long of Missouri offers up more than just questions to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

For years, conservatives have said Facebook operates with a deep anti-conservative bias and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill did not waste the opportunity this week to grill CEO Mark Zuckerberg on the subject during congressional hearings intended to focus on the company's sharing of user data.

One accusation of conservative censorship, in particular, came up repeatedly during the hearings.

Last week, Lynette Hardaway and Rochelle Richard, two African-American sisters who have gained 1.4 million followers for their outspoken support for Presi dent Trump as the social media personalities "Diamond and Silk," accused Facebook (in a Facebook post) of "bias, censorship and discrimination."

Hardaway (Diamond) and Rochelle Richardson (Silk) said they reached out to Facebook in September about a decline in the size of the audience reached with their posts. After months of demanding an answer, they said they were informed by Facebook Thursday that, "The Policy Team came to the conclusion that your content and your brand has been determined unsafe to the community."

When Zuckerberg appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday in his second day of congressional hearings, several lawmakers asked him about Diamond and Silk and the perception that Facebook works to silence right-wing voices.

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, read a question from a constituent about Facebook deeming Diamond and Silk "unsafe." Zuckerberg said that in this case the team "made a n enforcement error" and that the company had reached out to the women to fix the problem.

Diamond and Silk said on Twitter that no one from Facebook had contacted them.

Later in the hearing, Rep. Billy Long, R-Mo., presented a poster-sized photo of Diamond and Silk and asked Zuckerberg if he recognized the women.

"I do," he said. "Is that Diamond and Silk?"

Long then asked a question the sisters said they wanted to ask the Facebook CEO: "What is unsafe about two black women supporting Donald J. Trump?"

"Nothing is unsafe about that," Zuckerberg replied.

"Let me tell you something, Diamond and Silk is not terrorism," Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., told Zuckerberg after he said there were types of content "like terrorism" that Facebook doesn't want on its platform.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., who said he represents Diamond and Silk's district, asked Zuckerber g what standard the company uses to decide between hate speech and speech it might disagree with.

Zuckerberg confessed that the company constantly struggles to determine when someone crosses the line and he said Facebook gets criticism from both conservatives and liberals for its decisions on the subject.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., asked Zuckerberg about a report that found that a new algorithm Facebook uses to determine what appears in users' newsfeeds had a "tremendous bias against conservative news and content, and a favorable bias toward liberal content."

"There is absolutely no directive in any of the changes that we make to have a bias in anything that we do," Zuckerberg responded. "To the contrary, our goal is to be a platform for all ideas."

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, led the charge in accusing Facebook of political bias on Tuesday, during Zuckerberg first day of congressional testimony. Cruz said there are a "g reat many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship."

Cruz inaccurately accused Facebook of "blocking" Diamond and Silk's page and alleged other incidents in which he said the company blocked conservative pages. He also cited a 2016 Gizmodo report about a former Facebook worker who said the company prevented conservative topics from appearing in the list of trending news topics (a Facebook executive said the company "found no evidence that the anonymous allegations" were true).

The Texas conservative also alleged Facebook had not acted to censor liberal groups the way it had conservative ones.

Zuckerberg said he understood the concern about bias because the tech industry's home in California's Silicon Valley, "which is an extremely left-leaning place." The Facebook CEO said he has worked hard to ro ot out any such bias in the platform.

Zuckerberg's insistence that Facebook strives for political neutrality is not any more likely to convince conservatives that the company is not suppressing their speech than the denial of the 2016 Gizmodo report. The idea has taken root on right-wing websites like Breitbart and seems to be gaining steam.

The line between what is offensive and unpopular is highly subjective and in an America as divided as this, people will inevitably disagree over Facebook's decisions on when to block accounts.

The difficulty in separating political speech from hate speech is highlighted by a Fox News Tech post under the headline "10 times Facebook censored conservatives" that was published in the wake of the Gizmodo article.

Among the incidents listed, Fox included the company's decision to block Christopher Cantwell for 30 days for expressing his opinion about the attacks in Cologne, Germany, and the right to bear arms.

Although the Fox article identified Cantwell as just another conservative, he is a white supremacist who would later be at the center of a Vice News report on the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va. Cantwell said the killing of a counterprotester was justified because they were a "bunch of stupid animals" who failed to get out of the way of the car that plowed into the crowd.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress Fullscreen

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (L) greets Rep. Markwayne Mullin, (R-Okla) ahead of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Press photographers gather around Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as he arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enters the hearing room on Capital Hill as he arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO M ark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the company's use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 11, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Com mittee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on C ommerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his opening statement before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of t he Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the companyÂ's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the company's use and protection of user data in Washington. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the companyÂ's use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes his seat as he arritves to testify at a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation regarding the companyÂ''s use and protection of user data in Washington on April 10, 2018. Fullscreen 100 cutout figures of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wearing "Fix Fakebook" T-shirts are displayed by advocacy group, Avaaz, on lawn of the Capitol in Washington, April 10, 2018, ahead of Zuckerberg's appearance before a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing regarding the company's use and protection of user data. Fullscreen The witness table is seen before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appearance at a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018 in Washington. Fullscreen The committee room is set up before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appears before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees. Fullscreen People wait in line to attend the joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear, on Capitol Hill, April 10, 2018. Fullscreen Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, answers questions during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill before his panel and the C ommerce Committee jointly hear testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about how data from the social media giant was used to target American voters in the 2016 election. Fullscreen Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves a meeting with Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., the ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 9, 2018. Zuckerberg will testify Tuesday before a joint hearing of the Commerce and Judiciary Committees. FullscreenReplay
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