Wicker: Big Tech to face renewed scrutiny from Congress
Credit: Sen. Roger Wicker
New Documents Show Twitter Censored Hunter Biden Story Without Basis
With new leadership in charge of Twitter, some of the social media giant’s most blatant attacks on free speech are finally coming to light.
On Dec. 2, the first batch in a series of internal documents was released with the permission of Twitter’s new boss, Elon Musk. These explosive documents, known as the “Twitter Files,” reveal a cozy relationship between top Twitter executives and Democrat politicians. They also show that Twitter acted dishonestly when it silenced the Hunter Biden laptop story in late 2020, wrongly insisting that it was Russian misinformation. In fact, the evidence revealed enormous sums of money going from corrupt foreign executives to Hunter Biden in an apparent attempt to influence his father, who was serving as Vice President. Suppressing this scandal so soon before the 2020 election almost certainly affected the outcome of the race. This is exactly the corruption many of us suspected. Conservatives who felt that Twitter was covering up the truth simply to help Joe Biden are vindicated by these revelations.
These newly confirmed details raise serious concerns about the power of tech companies to put their thumb on the scale of our democracy. In light of these revelations, I am calling on Congress to renew its investigations of Twitter. A few days ago, I sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell urging her to hold a hearing on protecting free speech online. Congress needs to make sure this corruption is fully exposed and prevented in the future.
Democrats Go Soft on Big Tech
When this scandal broke in 2020, I was serving as Chairman of the Commerce Committee, which oversees the regulation of digital technologies. I immediately called a hearing with the CEOs of Twitter and Facebook. My questioning of these executives revealed that neither company had direct evidence that the Hunter Biden story was Russian misinformation. In fact, the Washington Post has since verified that the 22,000 emails that served as the basis of the story are fully authentic.
I took heat for asking these questions of Big Tech executives. One senior Democrat insinuated that even holding the hearing violated federal law and that my Republican colleagues and I were somehow the problem. This indifference to the corrosive power of Big Tech continued for the next two years. Every time Republicans proposed ideas to rein in Big Tech companies, Democrat leaders opposed us.
Even before the Hunter Biden story emerged, it was clear that Big Tech needed to be reined in. In September 2020, I proposed legislation to roll back protections for tech companies in Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934. More recently, I introduced the PRO-SPEECH Act, which would bar tech companies from discriminating against conservative users and require them to be transparent in how they censor content. Unfortunately, Democrats have shown little to no interest in taking serious steps to protect speech online.
Next Congress Could Make Progress
I regret that Congress has so far failed to advance these bills, which would provide free speech protection to millions of Americans who use social media. With Republicans soon taking over in the House, however, Big Tech is sure to receive more scrutiny in Washington. I look forward to working alongside the new House Republican majority to put pressure on Big Tech and hold its leaders accountable to the American people.