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Sen. Cruz Questions Mark Zuckerberg on Alleged Political Bias and Censorship at Facebook

Best of Press Coverage on Joint Senate Hearing Questioning Facebook

April 11, 2018

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) member of both the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, questioned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a joint hearing, raising questions whether Facebook considers itself a neutral public forum and emphasizing that many Americans believe Facebook is engaged in political bias and censorship.

Several news outlets covered Sen. Cruz’s line of questioning. Selected news coverage is below: 

The Texas Tribune: At Facebook hearing, Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn grill Zuckerberg on social network's content
“During his questioning, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tacked toward a different, earlier controversy, repeatedly asking Zuckerberg if Facebook considers ‘itself a neutral public forum.’ Zuckerberg said the company viewed the site as an open forum for ideas. He then accused Facebook of engaging in ‘bias and censorship,’ quoting a 2016 Gizmodo story that reported Facebook routinely suppressed some conservative news. ‘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 in the company is making sure that we don't have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.’ Cruz then asked if Facebook had taken down any pages from Democratic candidates or liberal groups like Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org, to which Zuckerberg said he had no knowledge of.”

CNN: Ted Cruz grills Zuckerberg over whether Facebook has political bias
“Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, grilled CEO Mark Zuckerberg over whether Facebook has political bias. Zuckerberg said Facebook's goal is not to engage political speech. Cruz followed up, citing several examples in which Facebook blocked user accounts because their content and brand was ‘unsafe to the community,’ he said. ‘To a great many Americans that appears to be persuasive pattern of political bias, do you agree with this?’ Cruz asked Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg said he understands those concerns, especially because ‘Facebook and tech industry is located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place.’”

Daily Caller: Ted Cruz Grills Zuckerberg Over FB’s Censorship Of Conservatives
“Sen. Ted Cruz clearly rattled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday by grilling him about Facebook’s well-documented censorship of conservatives. Zuckerberg had a relatively easy time facing questioning during his Tuesday testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees until Cruz took over the helm. Cruz noted the number of examples of Facebook censoring conservatives, including labeling conservative commentators Diamond and Silk as ‘unsafe,’ hiding stories about the IRS targeting conservatives and blocking over two dozen Catholic pages. ‘To a great many Americans, that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias,’ Cruz said. ‘Do you agree with that assessment?’ Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook’s location in the highly-liberal Silicon Valley could concern conservative users, but assured Cruz that the platform tries to be unbiased.” 

Bloomberg: Cruz Grills Zuckerberg on Censorship, Conservative Viewpoints
“U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, peppered Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions about the social network’s approach to political speech on its platform, asking specifically about concerns that pages associated with conservative viewpoints had been shut down. ‘There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,’ Cruz said at a joint hearing of two Senate committees in Washington on Tuesday. He referred to reports in 2016 that Facebook suppressed news from conservative sources in its ‘trending stories’ column.”

Fox News: Cruz Grills Zuckerberg: Is Facebook Neutral 'Or Engaged in Political Speech'
“Texas Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg over claims his social media platform was not indeed a neutral public forum. Cruz, a Republican, asked several times whether Facebook is a neutral forum or whether it is simply engaging in its First Amendment right to political speech. ‘There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are [engaging in] a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,’ Cruz said. Cruz said there have been instances where conservative or right-leaning thoughts or pages have been suppressed. He mentioned posts about the IRS scandal in which former employee Lois Lerner was accused of targeting conservative groups for additional review, posts about Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.), radio host Glenn Beck, and the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland.” 

NBC News: Cruz grills Zuckerberg on political bias
“Under the most intense questioning of the day so far, Zuckerberg told Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, that the company didn’t make decisions about content or personnel based on political preferences. Many Americans are ‘deeply concerned’ that Facebook engaged in a ‘pattern of bias and political censorship’ in recent years, Cruz said. He listed the Conservative Political Action Conference, a House Republican investigation into the IRS and Glenn Beck, a conservative media personality who was among Cruz’s most high-profile supporters, as victims of potential bias at Facebook.” 

The Federalist: Watch Ted Cruz Savage Mark Zuckerberg Over Facebook’s Liberal Bias
“Republican Sen. Ted Cruz savaged Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s tendency to shut down and silence conservatives and conservative ideas in a hearing on Tuesday. Cruz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook considered itself a ‘neutral public forum,’ making the Silicon Valley billionaire squirm. ‘Senator, we consider ourselves to be a platform for all ideas,’ Zuckerberg replied. ‘Our goal is certainly not to engage in political speech.’ Cruz proceeded to list a number of conservative Facebook pages that had faced censorship from the social network.”

PBS News Hour: WATCH: There ‘appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias’ on Facebook, Sen. Cruz says
“Texas Sen. Ted Cruz says many Americans are concerned that Facebook is biased against conservatives. Questioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at a Senate hearing Tuesday, the Republican senator and former GOP presidential candidate said that to many people there ‘appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias’ after some conservative pages were taken down from the platform. In a series of pointed questions, Cruz asked Zuckerberg if he had tracked the political affiliations of his employees.”

The Right Scoop: WATCH: Ted Cruz HAMMERS Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook censorship of conservatives!
“Ted Cruz really put Mark Zuckerberg on the spot today in regard to Facebook censorship of conservatives and conservatives sites, grilling him over specific pages that have been blocked by Facebook in what appears to be political bias, including the most recent Diamond and Silk.”

Townhall: Cruz Grills Zuckerberg on Facebook's Censorship of Conservatives
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday about whether or not the social media platform was biased against conservatives. Zuckerberg acknowledged that Cruz raised a ‘fair concern’ but insisted that Facebook was committed to being a ‘platform for all ideas.’ ‘There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,’ Cruz said. He read off examples of Facebook suppressing conservative speech, starting with former Facebook employees admitting to suppressing conservative news in May of 2016. Cruz brought up Facebook shutting down a Chick-fil-A appreciation page and most recently censoring Trump supporters Diamond and Silk.”

Washington Free Beacon: Cruz Grills Zuckerberg About Political Bias at Facebook
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) on Tuesday had tough questions for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg about how his company handles political speech. Questioned about whether Facebook is a neutral public forum, Zuckerberg said the company does not engage in political speech and seeks to be a ‘platform for all ideas.’ Cruz, however, discussed instances where conservatives seemed to receive unfair treatment and where conservative ideas were somehow suppressed by Facebook. ‘In May of 2016, Gizmodo reported Facebook purposely and routinely suppressed conservative stories from trending news, including stories about CPAC, including stories about Mitt Romney, including stories about the Lois Lerner IRS scandal, including stories about Glenn Beck,’ Cruz said. He went on to mention other examples, such as when Facebook shut down a page supporting Chick-fil-A after the fast-food chain was criticized by some on the left. Then he brought up Diamond and Silk, a pro-Trump duo whose Facebook page was shut down for being ‘unsafe,’ and he said this seems to be part of a pattern. ‘Facebook has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk's page, with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were ‘unsafe to the community,’ Cruz said. ‘To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias.’”

The Hill: Cruz presses Zuckerberg on alleged censorship of conservative speech
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 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. ‘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.” 

Talking Points Memo: Ted Cruz Stands Up To Facebook For Chick-fil-A, Diamond And Silk
“Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday grilled Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on whether or not his social media platform was suppressing the viewpoints of important conservative figures like Diamond and Silk, the popular Trump surrogates, and fast-food chain Chick-fil-A. ‘There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship,’ Cruz told Zuckerberg during a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce committees. ‘There have been numerous instances with Facebook,’ he continued, before listing a few, starting with a 2016 Gizmodo report that former Facebook employees claimed the website’s ‘trending’ sidebar had suppressed conservative-leaning stories. ‘In addition to that,’ Cruz continued, ‘Facebook has initially shut down the Chick-fil-A appreciation day page, has blocked a post of a Fox News reporter, has blocked over two dozen Catholic pages and most recently blocked Trump supporters Diamond and Silk’s page, with 1.2 million Facebook followers, after determining their content and brand were, quote, ‘unsafe to the community.’ To a great many Americans that appears to be a pervasive pattern of political bias.’”

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