Cruz presses Zuckerberg on alleged censorship of conservative speech

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE (R-Texas) grilled Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergFight looms over national privacy law Facebook teaming with nonprofits to fight fake election news China may be copying Facebook to build an intelligence weapon MORE on Tuesday over what the Republican senator described as broad concerns that the company has censored conservative accounts and content.

Zuckerberg defended Facebook as a “platform for all ideas.” At the same time, he acknowledged that Facebook’s presence in liberal Silicon Valley could cause such concerns to arise.

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“There are a great many Americans who I would say are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,” Cruz said.

Cruz cited a 2016 Gizmodo report alleging that Facebook suppressed conservative news outlets, as well as the recent revelation that Facebook barred Trump supporters Diamond and Silk from the platform after deeming their content “unsafe to the community.”

He also said Facebook had initially shut down a Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day page, and blocked a post from a Fox News reporter as well as "over two dozen" Catholic pages.

“To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,” Cruz said.

Zuckerberg called the concerns “fair” and said he has worked to “root out” any political bias in the company’s work.

“I understand where that concern is coming from, because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place,” Zuckerberg said. 

“This is actually a concern that I have, and that I try to root out at the company — is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do,” he added. “I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”

Cruz pressed the Facebook CEO on whether he is aware of the company removing posts related to Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org or Democratic candidates. He answered he is not “specifically aware” of any instances. 

Zuckerberg also declined to address the ouster of Palmer Luckey, a Facebook employee who left the company after he was revealed as a supporter of a conservative group that produced anti-Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGraham: There's a 'bureaucratic coup' taking place against Trump Fox News poll shows Dems with edge ahead of midterms Poll: Democrats in position to retake the House MORE memes. 

“I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform to all ideas,” Zuckerberg told Cruz. 

Zuckerberg appeared before lawmakers on the Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees to address the ensuing controversy surrounding Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that harvested data on millions of Facebook users without their permission.