JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) is not backing down against holding powerful social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube, accountable.
Wicker, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released a statement Tuesday in response to Big Tech companies that have restricted or terminated conservative users’ accounts and content on social media platforms:
“Big Tech’s denial of access to users and selective decision making about online content is further dividing our country during a time when we should be fostering unity,” Wicker said. “Social media giants are using their market dominance and exercising politically biased censorship over what content users can access. These companies are adversely affecting the lives of real people, but they need to know they are playing with fire. I will fight to hold them accountable.”
Last week, five people died in Washington, D.C. after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol to delay or prevent certification of President-elect Joe Biden.
In the end, Biden was confirmed by Congress, but the riots caused a social media storm with comments flying everywhere from ordinary people, celebrities, and politicians.
Among them, President Trump, who’s currently facing impeachment for inciting the insurrection, in-person and on-line, including one controversial tweet in the middle of the riots.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever,” Trump said.
Days after the attack on the capital, Twitter permanently suspended Trump’s account, followed by tens of thousands more accounts linked to the incident.
In a public statement, Twitter said, “In the context of horrific events this week, we made it clear on Wednesday that additional violations of the Twitter Rules would potentially result in this very course of action. Our public interest framework exists to enable the public to hear from elected officials and world leaders directly. It is built on a principle that the people have a right to hold power to account in the open.”
Then, Facebook and Youtube began removing content and suspending accounts.
Facebook’s statement warned users about the content they’re looking to ban:
- Praise and support of the storming of the US Capitol
- Calls to bring weapons to locations across the US — not just in Washington but anywhere in the US — including protests
- Incitement or encouragement of the events at the Capitol, including videos and photos from the protestors. At this point, they represent the promotion of criminal activity which violates our policies.
- Calls for protests — even peaceful ones — if they violate the curfew in DC
- Attempts to restage violence tomorrow or in the coming days
And several companies, such as Your T1 WIFI, are also firing back action against social media giants for censorship.
The North Idaho internet provider says they’re blocking Facebook and Twitter from its WIFI service for some customers due to censorship claims, according to Seattle Times.
The social media giants are standing their ground, and one expert claims they’re within their rights.
Chris Krebs, who oversaw election cybersecurity efforts for the Department of Homeland Security, said the companies can just about do what they want.
“The First Amendment doesn’t apply to private sector organizations. That’s not how this works,” Krebs said when asked whether censorship by social media companies violated freedom of speech protections.