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House Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs

House Republicans urge Democrats to call hearing with tech CEOs
© Greg Nash

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee are urging the panel's Democratic chairman to hold a hearing with the CEOs of big tech companies regarding censorship and a law that grants the firms a liability shield.

The Republicans in a letter to Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) called for a hearing with Twitter, Google and Facebook CEOs regarding censorship and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 shields tech companies from being legally held accountable for content posted on their platforms by third parties. 

The GOP members' push for a hearing comes after Republican outrage over Twitter and Facebook limiting the spread of a New York Post report last week that included allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE’s son, Hunter Biden. The Post's report drew scrutiny over its sourcing and key portions have been refuted by Joe Biden's campaign. 

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“These actions taken by Twitter, Facebook, and Google suggest that these companies do not enforce their policies consistently,” Republicans wrote to Pallone. 

Twitter initially blocked users from posting the Post's article, citing its hacked policy materials policy. The company later altered its policy and allowed the report to be posted on its platform. 

Facebook also took action last week to limit the spread of the article, drawing scrutiny from President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him Biden: Trump attending inauguration is 'of consequence' to the country Biden says family will avoid business conflicts MORE and many of his GOP allies that used the social media platform’s action to renew allegations of an anti-conservative bias. 

House Energy and Commerce Republicans note in their letter that Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergAttorneys general plan to sue Facebook over antitrust violations next week: report Facebook-backed cryptocurrency Libra changes names Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are already slated to appear before the Senate Energy and Commerce committee later this month. Senate Judiciary Republicans have also pushed for Zuckerberg and Dorsey to appear before the committee in a separate hearing after the actions taken over the Post's report. 

The House Republicans underscored their push for the hearing by noting that Election Day is two weeks away and millions of Americans have already voted. The GOP members also accused the tech companies of taking actions that “suggest their decisions are based on political motives.” 

Republicans said the committee should hold a vote to authorize subpoenas for the CEOs if they refuse to testify before the House committee. 

Spokespeople for Energy and Commerce Democrats and Pallone were not immediately available to comment.