Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, tore into the heads of some of the country’s largest tech companies on Wednesday – blasting the leaders of Google, Facebook and other tech giants as “out to get conservatives.”
Speaking during a remote House Judiciary subcommittee meeting on anti-trust law, Jordan rattled off a list on instances where major tech and social media companies either censored or removed posts from conservative lawmakers or thinkers before voicing his concerns about tech’s role in November’s upcoming election.
“I’ll cut right to the chase,” Jordan said. “Big tech is out to get conservatives….That’s a fact.”
Jordan focused much of his ire on Twittter – whose leader was not present at the hearing – after the company “shadow banned” his account in 2018. The company told Jordan that it was a glitch in its algorithm that caused him to be blocked.
“If I had a nickel for every time I heard it was just a glitch, I wouldn’t be as rich as our witnesses, but I’d be alright,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s comments, which came during opening statements, marked the beginning of the grilling that the four Big Tech CEOs — Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Sundar Pichai of Google and Tim Cook of Apple — took during the hearing from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
The four tech CEOs command corporations with gold-plated brands, millions or even billions of customers, and a combined value greater than the entire German economy. One of them, Bezos, is the world’s richest individual; Zuckerberg is the fourth-ranked billionaire.
Critics question whether the companies stifle competition and innovation, raise prices for consumers and pose a danger to society.
In its bipartisan investigation, the Judiciary subcommittee collected testimony from mid-level executives of the four firms, competitors and legal experts, and pored over more than a million internal documents from the companies. A key question: whether existing competition policies and century-old antitrust laws are adequate for overseeing the tech giants, or if new legislation and enforcement funding is needed.
Subcommittee chairman Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., has called the four companies monopolies, although he says breaking them up should be a last resort. While forced breakups may appear unlikely, the wide scrutiny of Big Tech points toward possible new restrictions on its power.
“Simply put, they have too much power,” Cicilline said in opening remarks Wednesday, as he laid out data pointing out the power of the four tech companies as essential cogs of commerce and communications.
He also said that in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, “these giants stand to profit” and become even more powerful as millions shift more of their work and commerce online.
The companies face legal and political offensives on multiplying fronts, from Congress, the Trump administration, federal and state regulators and European watchdogs. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission have been investigating the four companies’ practices.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.