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Sen. Cruz: We Have an Obligation to Defend the First Amendment Right of Every American on Social Media Platforms

Discusses exchange with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on KTRH’s Michael Berry and WOAI’s Joe Pags

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared on KTRH’s ‘The Michael Berry Show,’ and WOAI’s ‘The Joe Pags Show’ to discuss his exchange earlier this week with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In his interview with Berry, Sen. Cruz discussed the expanding role social media plays in our political discourse, saying, “The power that Facebook and social media has is unprecedented. I and many, many others, are concerned about the pattern they have demonstrated of anti-conservative bias and censorship. Of silencing views with which they disagree and promoting Left wing views with which they agree. That is profoundly dangerous as more and more of our political discourse goes through social media.” 

When asked by Berry whether Facebook has a First Amendment right to promote the views with which they agree Sen. Cruz discussed the immunity given to Facebook and other social media platforms who operate as a neutral public forum.

“The opening question that I asked Zuckerberg is ‘Does Facebook consider itself a neutral public forum?’ and he danced around and refused to answer that question,” Sen. Cruz said to Berry. “Now the reason that matters is that under Section 230 of what is called the Communications Decency Act (CDA) Facebook and other social media companies have a congressionally created immunity from civil liability. Which means if someone posts something on Facebook, you can’t sue them for it. They are immune from being sued. Congress gave them that special protection. By the way, that protection does not apply to the New York Times; it does not apply to Michael Berry. If you say something, if you go on air and slander someone, they can sue you. Congress has given Facebook, Twitter, and Google a special protection where you cannot sue them. The entire basis of that protection is that they were a neutral public forum, so it was other people speaking, not them, so they should not be sued. If they’re instead going to choose to be political speakers that advance their own political view, they have the right to do that but they don’t have any entitlement to have some special immunity from liability from Congress if they’re just another private company expressing their own political views.” 

When asked on the Joe Pags Show if Facebook and other social media platforms are operating as a monopoly power, Sen. Cruz noted that today’s social media platforms are larger than other industries that have previously been broken up by antitrust laws.

“By any measure, Facebook and Google are both larger than Standard Oil was when it was broken up under the antitrust laws,” Sen. Cruz said to Pags. “It’s larger than AT&T was when it was broken up under the antitrust laws. And so I do think there is a fair question about whether they are exercising monopoly power and there’s a reason we have the antitrust laws which is to prevent monopolies from abusing their power and abusing consumers. If they’re behaving like Big Brother and censoring political speech, I think that raises very serious legal questions that I expect to see a whole lot more scrutiny devoted to.”

Sen. Cruz also reiterated his commitment to defending the First Amendment right of every American, arguing that the cure to bad speech is not censorship, but rather more speech.

“You and I both passionately believe in the First Amendment, I think people should have free speech, and if techies want to be Left wingers that’s their right, but it’s not their right to censor the free speech of others. And so what legal tools we use, whether it’s not giving them the immunity of liability, whether it’s the antitrust laws, or other legal tools, I think we have an obligation to protect free speech, to protect the right of people to be left wing, right wing, or whatever wing they want to be. I agree with John Stuart Mill who says, ‘The cure for bad speech is more speech.’”

Audio from Sen. Cruz’s interviews may be found below: