Cruz presses Zuckerberg on alleged censorship of conservative speech

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzLawmakers spar over surveillance flight treaty with Russia Senators voice support for Iran protesters but stop short of taking action Prisons chief: FBI investigating whether 'criminal enterprise' played role in Epstein death MORE (R-Texas) grilled Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Progressives oppose funding bill over surveillance authority | Senators call for 5G security coordinator | Facebook gets questions over location tracking | Louisiana hit by ransomware attack Senators press Facebook over user location tracking policies Hillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant 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 ClintonDemocrats ask judge for quick ruling on McGahn subpoena Hillary Clinton: 'Every day Stephen Miller remains in the White House is an emergency' The Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race 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.