Jim Jordan Subpoenas Five Big Tech CEOs After Twitter Files Expose Government Collusion
House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan, R-Oh, issued subpoenas to the CEOs of five Big Tech giants on Wednesday. The warrants demand that Apple’s Tim Cook, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and Amazon’s Andy Jassy hand over documents relating to any potential collusion between the tech companies and the federal government in suppressing free speech. The order is a significant first step in the Republican-led effort to hold tech companies accountable.
“The House Judiciary Committee has repeatedly attempted to engage with the five companies since last December,” Judiciary Republicans said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the companies have not adequately complied with our requests.”
The Big Tech leaders were issued a deadline of March 23 to turn over the requested materials and communications relating to content removal.
“Congress has an important role in protecting and advancing fundamental free speech principles, including by examining how private actors coordinate with the government to to [sic] suppress First Amendment-protected speech. These subpoenas are the first step in holding Big Tech accountable.”
— House Judiciary GOP (@JudiciaryGOP) February 15, 2023
Jordan also sent letters to each CEO individually, demanding they comply with the Judiciary Committee’s request. In the letters, Jordan indicated that the committee might seek to develop new legislation based on the documents provided aimed at restricting Big Tech’s ability to collude with the Executive Branch.
The subpoenas also allow the tech leaders to be called in front of Congress to testify. Two addressees, Zuckerberg and Pichai, were previously called to testify about their companies’ policies regarding content removal in 2021.
Notably absent from the latest Big Tech roundup is Twitter CEO Elon Musk.
In his letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Jordan heralded Musk’s management of Twitter Inc. as the gold standard for transparency. “In contrast to Meta, Twitter recently set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with the government over censorship.”
Jordan continued, criticizing the tech companies for their abuse of power in collaboration with the federal government,
“The Twitter Files have exposed how Big Tech and the federal government have worked hand in hand in ways that undermine First Amendment principles. Numerous internal documents from Twitter reflect the weaponization of the federal government’s power to censor speech online. It is necessary for Congress to gauge the extent to which this occurred at Meta as well.”
Censorship by the tech companies at the federal government’s request was common during the COVID-19 pandemic and often justified as necessary to combat “misinformation.” Documents revealed by Elon Musk showed that the FBI had paid Twitter $3.5 million to carry out moderation requests between 2019 and 2021.
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The issue of big tech censorship reached a boiling point before the 2020 election when social media platforms Twitter and Facebook suppressed discussion of the Hunter Biden Laptop scandal and censored the report by the New York Post. Calls for accountability mounted after the platforms suspended the accounts of President Donald Trump following the January 6 riot.
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