Facebook, Twitter and Google to testify at Senate hearing on tech 'censorship'

Tech giants Facebook, Twitter and Google are sending company representatives to testify at a Senate hearing next week about big tech's alleged "censorship" of conservative voices.

Facebook said public policy director Neil Potts will provide testimony at a Wednesday hearing titled "Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship and the Public Discourse," held by the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. 

A source familiar with the matter told The Hill that Twitter and Google are also sending representatives to the hearing, and said there will be a second panel.

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The subcommittee is chaired by tech critic Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy Cruz calls for 'every penny' of El Chapo's criminal enterprise to be used for Trump's wall after sentencing Conservatives defend Chris Pratt for wearing 'Don't Tread On Me' T-shirt MORE (R-Texas), who has alleged the Silicon Valley giants — Google, Facebook and Twitter — are biased against conservatives and routinely censor right-wing voices.

All three companies have pushed back against those accusations, arguing there is little evidence to back up those charges.

But conservatives, including President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE, in recent weeks have ramped up their criticisms of social media companies. Trump in a tweet last month accused Facebook, Google and Twitter of being "on the side of the Radical Left Democrats."

His remarks came a day after Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and its former chairman, sued Twitter and some of its users for more than $250 million. Nunes claimed in the lawsuit that Twitter partially blocks or removes certain content posted by conservatives without notifying them.

Twitter has repeatedly denied that it "shadow-bans" users, saying some users are unintentionally affected when algorithms misidentify them as bots due to the amount they engage with the platform.
 
"Big tech behaves like the only acceptable views are those on the far left," Cruz told The Hill last week. "And any views to the contrary are suitable for censorship and silencing."

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment on whether they plan to send representatives to testify at Wednesday's hearing. Politico first reported Facebook's plans to attend.

Potts and a Google representative are also scheduled to testify at a House Judiciary Committee on white nationalism on Tuesday.

Updated 1:36 p.m.