Blackburn: Social media companies are censoring conservative speech

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has warned congressional colleagues that social media companies are censoring conservative speech and recounted for lawmakers her own experience last fall when Twitter blocked a video launching her campaign for Senate, reports Michael Collins.

“This ban hit at the fundamental freedom to engage in political speech,” said the Brentwood Republican, who is running for Senate seat currently held by Bob Corker.

Blackburn was the first witness at a hearing (Thursday) before the House Judiciary Committee, which is examining the filtering practices of social media platforms.

Blackburn, who does not sit on the committee but was invited to testify, told lawmakers there are growing concerns about how and why Big Tech companies are making decisions to ban or otherwise filter legal speech online.

The congresswoman noted that Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg testified before two congressional committees earlier this month and was asked about censoring conservative speech. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook doesn’t want certain types of content “like terrorism” on its platform.

That response did not go over well with Blackburn and other conservatives, who pointed out that some of the sites that have been targeted have nothing to do with terrorism.

Free speech, as a value, is endangered even here in America and is nonexistent in most of the world,” Blackburn said. “We need to recognize that the global reach of these companies creates overwhelming pressure against free speech, and we need to do a much better job counteracting that pressure.”

Blackburn had her own battle over social media content last fall when Twitter blocked from its advertisements her online video announcing her Senate campaign.

Twitter objected to a line in the ad in which Blackburn talked about stopping the “sale of baby body parts.” The social media company informed Blackburn’s campaign that the phrase constituted inflammatory language. It blocked the video as an online ad but allowed Blackburn to share it on her campaign Twitter account. A day later, Twitter relented and allowed the video to be posted on its ads platform.

“Twitter reversed its decision in my case, but the bans keep coming,” said Blackburn, who chairs the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

Note: Blackburn’s comments are mentioned in Politico’s report on the hearing, which has this as its lead paragraph:

A House Judiciary Committee hearing headlined by pro-Trump video-bloggers Diamond and Silk quickly devolved into yelling, partisan bickering and questions about whether they lied under oath Thursday — just hours after the president praised them as “warriors.”

 

 

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