Big Tech companies claim to represent American values, but their business practices say otherwise.
The CEOs declared that they were American companies, then had to deal with numerous examples that undermined that patriotic claim. Before a July 29 House antitrust hearing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated, “Facebook is a proudly American company.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote that Google “maintain[s] America’s competitive technological edge in the world.” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos argued that "The trust customers put in us every day has allowed Amazon to create more jobs in the United States over the past decade than any other company.” Apple CEO Tim Cook wrote, “Apple is a uniquely American company whose success is only possible in this country."
GOP members of Congress hammered the CEOs with questions about their companies’ connections to China and their commitment to the American value of freedom of expression. “As we know, Facebook, Google’s YouTube, and Twitter have become the public square where political debate unfolds in real time,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI). “The reports that dissenting views, often conservative views, are targeted or censored are seriously troubling.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) mentioned that Facebook investor Peter Thiel accused Google of treason and working with the Chinese military. He also brought the fact that Google has an AI center in China. “We are not working with the Chinese military,” said Pichai in response.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) stated, “Big Tech is out to get conservatives. That’s not a suspicion. That's not a hunch. That's a fact.” Later, he asked Pichai about the “silent contribution” made to the Clinton campaign in 2016. “Is Google going to tailor its features to help Joe Biden in the 2020 election?” asked Jordan.
Pichai was unable to immediately respond with a yes or no answer. “We approach our work — we support both campaigns today,” he stumbled. “I think political ads are an important part of free speech and democratic societies.”
Gaetz later grilled Zuckerberg about the accusations of ideological bias that Facebook has faced. “I am not aware of a case when we have fired someone for their politics,” Zuckerberg said. “Why did you fire Palmer Luckey?” asked Gaetz, referring to Oculus inventor Luckey, who was fired from Facebook after giving a large donation to the Trump campaign.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) wondered “what values Google and communist red China have in common.”
Minutes before the hearing, President Donald Trump tweeted, “If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”