Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday grilled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on whether or not his social media platform was suppressing the viewpoints of important conservative figures like Diamond and Silk, the popular Trump surrogates, and fast-food chain Chick-fil-A.
“There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,” Cruz told Zuckerberg during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees.
“There have been numerous instances with Facebook,” he continued, before listing a few, starting with a 2016 Gizmodo report that former Facebook employees claimed the website’s “trending” sidebar had suppressed conservative-leaning stories.
“In addition to that,” Cruz continued, “Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-fil-A appreciation day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page, with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias.”
Zuckerberg didn’t answer for the individual examples Cruz gave — TPM was unable to immediately verify them, save for Diamond and Silk’s well-reported claim, though they were not blocked — but said he was similarly concerned about ensuring that Facebook didn’t represent a political bias. Cruz interrupted him, asking if the website had blocked posts from a list of progressive organizations. Zuckerberg said he wasn’t aware.
Cruz also asked if Facebook asked potential content moderators about their political views, to which Zuckerberg answered that the company didn’t.
And, in response to a question from Cruz, Zuckerberg said that ousted Oculus cofounder Palmer Luckey had not left that position for political reasons. Before Luckey left Oculus, which had been acquired by Facebook, the Daily Beast revealed that he’d supported an anti-Hillary Clinton group.
“I can commit that it was not because of a political view,” Zuckerberg said.