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Tech Giants Face Grilling on Capitol Hill in Anti-Trust, Bias Hearing: 'Big Tech's Out to Get Conservatives'

07-29-2020

Four big tech CEO's from Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google testified before Congress today. At the center of the hearing was the question of whether their companies are too big and too powerful. 

The CEOs are facing criticism from both the liberal and conservative sides of the aisle as lawmakers questioned whether the companies have stifled competition and innovation and raised prices for consumers.

Many Republicans argue that some big tech platforms have censored conservatives online.

In the latest case, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are a few who are under fire for censoring messages from "American Frontline Doctors" about COVID-19 treatments like hydroxychloroquine. They've taken down videos of the doctors' posts, even targeting those who posted the videos, like Donald Trump, Jr., and Prager U.

While there were several themes throughout the questioning and testimony, one thing was apparent: both sides have their concerns. 

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Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) said, "Many of the practices used by these companies have harmful economic effects. They discourage entrepreneurship, destroy jobs, and hike costs and degrade quality. Simply put they have too much power."

"I'll just cut to the chase, Big Tech's out to get conservatives, that's not a suspicion that's not a hunch, that's a fact," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH). "July 20, 2020, Google removes the home pages of Breitbart and The Daily Caller. Just last night, we learned Google has censored Breitbart so much - traffic has declined 99 percent."
 
Other issues brought up included possible breaches of anti-trust laws like Facebook's purchase of Instagram to stave off the competition.

The companies' affiliations with China, efforts to eliminate hate speech on platforms, and general censorship were among the other hot topics discussed.

One lawmaker brought up Donald Trump Jr. being suspended on Twitter for supporting the controversial COVID-19 treatment, hydroxychloroquine.

Twitters' CEO was not there, but Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook attempted to answer that question.

"We do prohibit content that will lead to imminent risk of harm," said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. "Stating that there is proven cure for COVID when in fact there isn't one might encourage someone to take something that could have an adverse effect, so we do take that down." 

But that debate over hydroxychloroquine is still going on in the medical community, and critics say tech giants shouldn't pretend to be medical experts on unresolved science.

The CEOs were also taken to task for their role in what some believe was Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election - some of which allegedly took place on social media.

And with the 2020 election less than 100 days away, lawmakers were looking for reassurances that the companies were on board with fighting against election interference.

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