By Zachary Stieber
Democrats cheer the board’s decision, call for ban to be made permanent.
Congressional Republicans on Wednesday, upset with the decision by Facebook’s Oversight Board to uphold the company’s ban of former President Donald Trump, said they’d work to curb the technology giant’s power.
“Break them up,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said in reaction to the decision.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said the decision was “a real life example of the tyranny of Big Tech” before echoing Jordan.
Republicans have increasingly turned critical of technology giants like Facebook, as more and more evidence emerges showing bias against conservatives.
“Facebook is more interested in acting like a Democrat Super PAC than a platform for free speech and open debate. If they can ban President Trump, all conservative voices could be next. A House Republican majority will rein in big tech power over our speech,” House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Wednesday.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) called for “aggressive antitrust reform” to end what he described as Facebook’s monopoly.
Republicans lost control of the House of Representatives in early 2019 and ceded the majority in the upper chamber in January. They hope to flip both in the 2022 midterms.
They could have trouble garnering enough votes for their legislative preferences in dealing with Big Tech if they do not.
Democrats largely focused on praising the upholding of Facebook’s suspension.
“As far as the decision of the Facebook goes, I applaud that decision. Facebook is not the public square. We need to remember that it’s not,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in a Washington Post Live interview.
“There’s no Constitutional protection for using social media to incite an insurrection. Trump is willing to do anything for himself no matter the danger to our country. His big lies have cost America dearly. And until he stops, Facebook must ban him. Which is to say, forever,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) added in a statement.
Still, some Democrats signaled that they want to reform laws dealing with Big Tech.
“Facebook is a disinformation-for-profit machine that won’t accept responsibility for its role in the safety of our democracy and people. Trump should be banned for good, but Facebook will continue to fumble with its power until Congress and antitrust regulators rein in Big Tech,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said.
Big Tech companies have generally resisted major alterations to rules governing them, primarily Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. But they have supported some changes, including stripping of immunity for companies that do not appropriately remove illegal posts.
Facebook’s Nick Clegg, a vice president, said officials there were pleased with the board’s decision.
“We’re pleased the board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the exceptional measure we took,” he said in a statement, adding that the company will consider the board’s criticism of the suspension being indefinite but that Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will remain suspended for now.
Trump, who is mulling another presidential bid, said in a statement that Facebook and other Big Tech companies “must pay a political price, and must never again be allowed to destroy and decimate our Electoral Process.”
“Free Speech has been taken away from the President of the United States because the Radical Left Lunatics are afraid of the truth, but the truth will come out anyway, bigger and stronger than ever before. The People of our Country will not stand for it!” he wrote.
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