During the first day of Mark Zuckerberg’s questioning in front of lawmakers from the House and the Senate about their recent breach of security by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, one senator stood out from the rest and slammed Zuckerberg for Facebook’s biased political censorship problem, reports Grabien News.
Sen. Ted Cruz took the issue of Facebook’s censorship problem seriously when it was his turn to question the CEO of Facebook he first asked him if Facebook was a neutral public forum for political ideas and for people to express their own views uninhibited.
“Senator, here is how we think about this: I don’t believe that – there is certain content that clearly we do not allow. Right? Hate speech, terrorist content, nudity, anything that makes people feel unsafe in the community. From that perspective, that’s why we generally try to refer to what we do as a platform for all ideas,” Zuckerberg said in his usual cryptic way.
Cruz continues to try to just get a straight answer out of Zuckerberg and in the end just ends up explaining why so many Americans feel like there is a censorship problem with conservative voices and opinions on Facebook:
“Mr. Zuckerberg, I will say there are a great 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. There have been numerous instances with Facebook. In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported that Facebook had purposefully and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck. In addition to that, Facebook has initially shut down the ‘Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day’ page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages, and most recently, blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias. Do you agree with that assessment?”
Zuckerberg then responds, “Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely Left leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”
Cruz then asks Zuckerberg if he has ever heard of liberal outlets such as Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, any Democratic candidate for office, being shut down from using Facebook as a platform. To that Zuckerberg could not answer the question.
“In your testimony, you say that you have 15,000 to 20,000 people working on security and content review. Do you know the political orientation of those 15,000 to 20,000 people engaged in content review?” Cruz asked.
“No, Senator. We do not generally ask people about their political orientation when they’re joining the company,” Zuckerberg responded.
Cruz continues, “Your testimony says, ‘It is not enough that we just connect people. We have to make sure those connections are positive.’ It says, ‘We have to make sure people aren’t using their voice to hurt people or spread misinformation. We have a responsibility not just to build tools, but to make sure those tools are used for good.’ Mr. Zuckerberg, do you feel it’s your responsibility to assess users whether they are good and positive connections or ones those 15,000 to 20,000 people deem unacceptable or deplorable?”
After a round about way, Zuckerberg finally responds with: “Oh, well, I think that you would probably agree we should remove terrorist propaganda from the service. So that I agree, I think is clearly bad activity that we want to get down and we are generally proud of how well we do with that. Now, what I can say, and I do want to get this in before the end here, is that I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas. That is a very important, founding principle of what we do. We’re proud of the discourse and different ideas that people can share on the service, and that is something that as long as I’m running the company, I’m going to be committed to making sure is the case.”
Cruz may not have been able to get Zuckerberg to admit Facebook is biased against conservative voices, but at least this grilling may put Zuckerberg’s choices with Facebook into place and give more justice to those like Diamond and Silk.