Republicans will reportedly use their new-found subpoena power to investigate Big Tech censorship by demanding documents and compelling testimony from decision-makers now they have retaken the US House of Representatives.
A senior aide who’s involved with the Republican’s preparations to investigate Big Tech censorship told Bloomberg that Republicans hope to bring transparency to Big Tech’s secretive censorship operations. A tech company advisor also told Bloomberg that tech companies are taking potential Republican-led investigations seriously.
The House Judiciary Committee, which will be chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) if Republicans regain control of the House, has signaled that it plans to look into Big Tech’s censorship of the New York Post’s bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story.
A November 4 House Judiciary Committee report titled “FBI whistleblowers: What their disclosures indicate about the politicization of the FBI and Justice Department” mentions President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, more than 1,000 times and suggests that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may have colluded with social media platforms to suppress the New York Post story in the weeks before the 2020 US presidential election. The report also cites whistleblowers who contacted Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and alleged that “there was a scheme in place among certain FBI officials to undermine derogatory information connected to Hunter Biden by falsely suggesting it was disinformation.”
And in September, a couple of months before the 2022 US midterm elections, Jordan and 34 other Republicans requested that Facebook hand over communications with the FBI that were related to the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop story. However, they had no power to compel Facebook to produce these documents at the time and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook’s parent company Meta, didn’t respond to the request.
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According to Bloomberg, the House Judiciary Committee is also likely to look into Big Tech’s deplatforming of former President Donald Trump and the Biden administration’s alleged collusion with Big Tech companies to censor “Covid-19 misinformation.”
These investigations could potentially uncover more documents that shine a light on the scale of Big Tech censorship and the lengths these companies go to when cooperating with the federal government. Previous lawsuits, investigations, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have already revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and high-ranking officials from the Biden White House flag content to social media companies for censorship — a development that has raised potential First Amendment violation concerns.
Additionally, Bloomberg notes that the investigations could potentially inform legislation. Republicans recently introduced a new bill that aims to stop the federal government from pressuring platforms to censor. However, even with a slight majority, the chances of major legislation being passed are low because cross-party cooperation would be required.