Sen. Rick Scott to Social Media Execs: Congress Will Hold You Accountable for Censoring Speech & Lying Under Oath
December 14, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott sent letters to leaders of social media companies Meta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube demanding answers regarding the extent of their knowledge of the platforms’ censorship. Earlier this year in a Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing, the executives testified under oath their respective companies were not shadow banning or manipulating news feeds to censor speech. Recent reports, such as Twitter Files, have shown this testimony to be at a minimum misleading, and potentially false. In his letter, Senator Scott makes clear that if social media executives lied under oath, they must be held accountable.
Read the full letters HERE or below.
December 14, 2022
The disturbing evidence of Big Tech’s meddling and censorship highlighted in recent “Twitter Files” releases have demanded the attention of the Congress and the American people. These disclosures, allowed at the direction of Elon Musk, confirm that the federal government and Big Tech have been working in concert to both suppress conservative speech limit the free flow of information to American users, regardless of the factual nature of such material. This unprecedented coordination between the federal government and private social media corporations to remove user content or actively block the spread of news prior to a presidential election, such the New York Post’s reporting on the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop, raise serious legal and constitutional questions that must be immediately answered.
On September 14, 2022, you testified before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on “Social Media’s Impact on Homeland Security” stating that the federal government did not direct you or your company to suppress speech on your platform. This testimony was grossly misleading, and I believe you knowingly lied to the Committee and the American people while under oath about the extent of your interactions and coordination with the federal government for content moderation and the suppression of content on your platform.
It was revealed in October, through court documents and reporting by the Intercept, that Facebook and other social media platforms created a censorship portal for the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and even White House officials, to request account “takedowns” and infringe on Americans’ speech they did not agree with.  Topics censored included, “the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic and the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, racial justice, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”
Americans have a right to political speech, which is protected by the First Amendment regardless of whether such speech is critical of government policy. This sacred right, afforded to all American citizens, relies on the free exercise of speech without fear of government interference or intimidation. That is certainly why court documents concluded that, “This case involves a massive, sprawling federal ‘Censorship Enterprise,’ which includes dozens of federal officials across at least eleven federal agencies and components, who communicate with social-media platforms about misinformation, disinformation, and the suppression of private speech on social media—all with the intent and effect of pressuring social-media platforms to censor and suppress private speech that federal officials disfavor.”
These disturbing revelations must be immediately answered for. According to the evidence I have cited here, Big Tech has engaged in a conspiracy, with the full support of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, to limit the free speech of American citizens and deny the exercise of one of the most fundamental rights afforded to us in the Constitution. These attacks on speech will not be forgotten or ignored and I demand that you address these issues, at the earliest possible date, and comprehensively revisit your previous testimony, which has now been proven false.
The American people deserve nothing less than full accountability and transparency from you and your company. I appreciate your attention to this serious matter.