U.S. Rep. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, discusses the investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings, as he faces reporters with other House Republicans during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, November 17, 2022.
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee expected to lead the panel next year when Republicans take the majority in the chamber, previewed his approach to Big Tech with letters to the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta and Microsoft.
In the letters dated Wednesday, Jordan demanded information about what he called “the nature and extent of your companies’ collusion with the Biden Administration.”
In the letters to tech CEOs, Jordan demanded documents and communication going back to January 2020 between employees and contractors of the companies and anyone affiliated with the executive branch of the government pertaining to “moderation, deletion, suppression, restricting, or reduced circulation of content.”
He also asked for a list of names of people at the companies responsible for developing content moderation policies, now or in the past, as well as third-party groups, companies or people the company has consulted on content moderation policies. Jordan requested the documents by 5 p.m. on Dec. 29 and said the letter is also a formal request to preserve existing and future records on those topics..
Jordan has been one of the loudest voices to criticize Big Tech firms for alleged censoring of conservative voices online. That’s why he cheered billionaire Elon Musk‘s decision to buy Twitter, since Musk has called himself a free speech absolutist and seemed to side with many conservatives who complained of too much moderation of their viewpoints. Still, even Musk has taken down content on the site he now owns, including most recently suspending an account that tracked his jet, even after pledging he wouldn’t.
Mainstream tech firms have repeatedly denied claims of bias and insisted they enforce their community guidelines as laid out in their policies. Independent reviews have found that right-wing voices still often dominate and drive online discussion.
While hearings over alleged censorship on tech platforms have taken a back seat while Democrats have held the gavels in both chambers of Congress, Jordan’s letters indicate they’re likely to come back into focus under Republican control of the House.
Successful legislation weakening the tech companies’ legal liability shield for content moderation still seems unlikely, however, with Democrats maintaining control of the Senate, since both sides have very different ideas of how that law should be altered. Still, a couple of Supreme Court cases coming up next year that implicate that law, Section 230, have the potential to alter the calculus in Congress if they must reckon with the secondary effects of a decision.
Meta and Microsoft declined to comment. The three other companies Jordan included in the letter and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Correction: Jordan requested the documents by 5 p.m. on Dec. 29. An earlier version misstated the date.
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