It’s Time to Stand Up to Big Tech’s Bias
Washington, October 29, 2020
Rep. Budd’s op-ed in Townhall
For too long, Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter have pretended to be neutral actors in our country’s political discourse, but recent events have exposed who they really are: Silicon Valley liberals who are using their immense power to influence the 2020 election.
The tipping point came in the aftermath of the New York Post’s bombshell story about Hunter Biden’s foreign dealings. The Post obtained emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop that showed him trading on his father’s name, setting up shady overseas deals, and organizing meetings between his business associates and the sitting vice president. At best, the story exposes Hunter for selling access to his father. A more realistic reading of these emails shows that Hunter Biden certainly crossed ethical lines and potentially crossed legal ones as well. In fact, the FBI has taken possession of the laptop, and the U.S. Senate is already investigating Hunter’s business dealings while his father was in office.
Normally, a story of this magnitude, with firsthand evidence, would draw widespread media coverage. The candidate’s campaign would be forced to answer questions and set the record straight. None of that happened in this case. The mainstream media fell back on fact-free theories of “Russian disinformation” or the vague excuse from 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl that they can’t verify it. Put aside the fact that it’s the job of journalists to do the verification, this ‘head in the sand’ attitude extended far beyond an uninterested press corps.
Soon after the story was published, social media giants began to censor it. Facebook’s Andy Stone announced the social network would begin, “reducing its distribution on our platform.” Twitter prevented users from clicking on the link at all. They alleged, without evidence, that the materials were “hacked” and the spread of the story violated their rules. Twitter locked the New York Post’s account and suspended White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, among other draconian moves. Twitter’s heavy-handed crackdown shouldn’t surprise anyone given the fact that Twitter’s senior communications manager is Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris’s former press secretary.
This entire saga begs the question about how much influence and power these tech giants have and how they use it. After all, 223 million Americans have Facebook accounts and over 48 million Americans are on Twitter. These companies enjoy broad legal protection because they are considered “platforms” under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. This is supposed to mean that they don’t regulate or censor content like a “publisher” would. This gives them legal immunity. But in reality, these companies are picking and choosing what content gets featured and what content gets hidden, blocked, or banned. Facebook and Twitter are acting like partisan publishers; cracking down on conservative viewpoints and boosting liberal ones.
This cannot be allowed to go on in our country, especially during elections. That’s why I proposed the Limiting Section 230 Immunity to Good Samaritans Act. The bill forces Big Tech companies to change their user agreements or else they lose their Section 230 protection. If these companies want to keep their immunity, then they need to start acting in good faith and stop censoring. If they continue to suppress content and act in bad faith, my bill also allows Americans to sue for damages. While these Big Tech giants are private companies, they shouldn’t get special privileges that allow them to censor. If they want to pick and choose, then they can’t turn around and ask for a special legal carveout.
The stakes in the election are too high and the influence of Big Tech is too great for conservatives to sit idly by while the online playing field is tilted further and further to the left. It’s time we stand up and take action to balance the scales.