Break up Big Tech — or regulate it so that major platforms cannot discriminate by viewpoint.
Former President Donald Trump’s allies in Congress on Wednesday vowed to strike back in response to Facebook’s decision to uphold its ban on Trump’s account — especially when the political tide turns, perhaps as soon as 2022, and they regain a majority in Congress.
“Break them up,” tweeted Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch Trump ally and the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
A rival proposal would force platforms like Facebook and Twitter to respect different political viewpoints by declaring them “common carriers,” a term that historically emerged for companies like railroads that were regulated to restrict discrimination.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) endorsed that approach in a Fox News interview Wednesday.
“They’re common carriers. They’re not companies, they’re countries. And we need to regulate them,” Kennedy said.
“I’m not saying that Facebook’s politics are right or wrong. I’m saying they shouldn’t have politics. And the only way to get this straight is either to properly regulate them or break them up.”
Kennedy added: “We’ve been talking about this for all four years that I’ve been in the United States Senate. And Congress needs to get up off its ice cold lazy butt and face this issue head on. And both Democrats and Republicans understand something’s wrong.”
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) last week introduced the 21st Century FREE Speech Act, which would declare an “interactive computer service” with “more than 100,000,000 worldwide active monthly users” as a common carrier. The bill also would mandate that they publish “accurate” moderation and account suspension information.
Members of both political parties in Congress historically supported reforms to laws governing Big Tech firms such as Amazon, Google, Facebook and Twitter. For example, both President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) backed repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which grants immunity for most third-party online content.
Kennedy said that he believes, however, that Democrats won’t pass reforms because they benefit from the current direction of censorship.
“I think we can take back the House, maybe the Senate, maybe both. And if we do, we’re going to face this issue head on. My Democratic friends — not all of them, but many of them — they profess to be upset, but their people are in control of these social media platforms,” Kennedy said.
“And let me say it again, if they want to be a bunch of Bolsheviks — they meaning the head of Facebook and Twitter — that’s their right as an American. But they can’t act on it. They can’t start censoring people because they’re common carriers. They can’t do it any more than my electric electrical power company can cut off my power because they don’t like my politics. It’s wrong and it’s hurting America.”
Twitter and Facebook both purged Trump following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Twitter said that Trump was permanently banned due to possible incitement to violence. Facebook, which also controls Instagram, delayed a final verdict until Wednesday, and made an indefinite suspension permanent.
Trump on Tuesday set up a new web platform for his statements. The site, which allows him to indirectly circumvent the Facebook and Twitter bans, won’t be a permanent replacement, his senior adviser Jason Miller tweeted Tuesday evening.
“President Trump’s website is a great resource to find his latest statements and highlights from his first term in office, but this is not a new social media platform. We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future,” Miller wrote.
Until recently, Republicans were more reluctant to regulate Big Tech platforms, but there was a dramatic shift in response to Facebook and Twitter censoring The Post’s reporting in October on a laptop formerly belonging to Hunter Biden that appeared to implicate his father in overseas business deals in China and Ukraine.