‘Accountability’ for Censorship! Sen. Cruz Launches Sweeping Big Tech Oversight Investigation

February 14th, 2023 7:54 PM

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has launched an investigation into the censorship operations of Big Tech platforms, including Google, Meta, Twitter, TikTok and others.

In a letter to the companies, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Cruz said he hopes to get to the bottom of social media “blacklists” that targeted conservatives.

“In a world where seven out of ten Americans receive their political news from social media, the manner in which content is filtered through recommendation systems has an undeniable effect on what Americans see, think, and ultimately believe,” Cruz wrote. “For example, the Twitter Files revealed—and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also confirmed—that both platforms heavily censored the New York Post story about emails on Hunter Biden’s laptop just two weeks before the 2020 election. This censorship ostensibly included suppressing the story in recommendations.”

MRC President Brent Bozell hammered Big Tech in a tweet and thanked Sen. Cruz for his efforts, writing: "Congress needs to investigate Big Tech and hold them accountable. Thank you @SenTedCruz."

The senator, for his part, added that manipulating algorithms to de-emphasize certain content is “soft censorship.”

“[M]anual and algorithmic interventions that reduce the reach of content—including filtering content from recommendations—are analogous to other interventions, such as content removals, in that they still restrict the poster’s legitimate speech,” he wrote.

Cruz asked the platforms to define what a “recommendation system” is as well as providing their policies on how the system is implemented on social media platforms. He also asked the companies to provide the names of any outside individuals the companies consulted about the policies, presumably seeking to determine whether agents acting on behalf of the federal government influenced such policies.

He later joined Fox News’s Hannity to discuss the investigation and praised billionaire Twitter owner Elon Musk for releasing internal messages through The Twitter Files in an effort to promote free speech online.

“Elon Musk’s buying Twitter is a game-changer, because he’s done something that the Big Tech oligarchs never thought would happen,” said Cruz. “He’s exposed the corruption. He’s exposed the censorship. He’s exposed the collusion with Democrats in Congress, the collusion with the Biden White House, the collusion with the deep state at the FBI, the CIA and the DOJ.”

Cruz said that in the investigation, he will use The Twitter Files as a “roadmap” to go after other Big Tech giants.

“We are going to bring accountability, we’re going to bring transparency, we’re going to shine a light and expose their collusion with Democrats and the deep state to try to silence conservatives,” he added.

Cruz has expressed concern about one-sided online censorship for several years and recently encouraged the United States Supreme Court to take action. 

In a recent amicus brief in the Gonzalez v. Google case, Cruz and others argued that an unlawful expansion of Section 230 allows social media companies to use the law as a shield to do whatever they want.

“[The Supreme Court] should hold that the ordinary, contemporary, common, and natural reading of § 230(c)(1) provides only a definitional statement for a limited set of cases, rather than the ‘nearly impenetrable super-First Amendment’ that the lower courts have construed it to mean,’” the brief reads.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.