The Senate Judiciary Committee approved subpoenas on Thursday to force Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify before the body regarding complaints of anti-conservative bias on their platforms.
Last week, the New York Post published a report alleging that Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, introduced his father to an executive at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. For months, President Trump’s reelection campaign has targeted Biden’s alleged connections to Ukraine as the foundation of political attacks. Reporters disputed the Post’s allegations, and Facebook and Twitter moved to reduce the article’s reach.
Facebook signaled that the article was subject to third-party fact-checking, and Twitter banned linking to the story entirely. This lit a fire under Republicans who claimed that the platforms were censoring conservatives only weeks before the US presidential election.
“This is election interference, and we are 19 days out from an election,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a Judiciary Committee member told reporters shortly after the platforms took action against the report. “Never before have we seen active censorship of a major press publication with serious allegations of corruption of one of the two candidates for president.”
Facebook and Twitter declined to comment.
Republicans approved the subpoena authorizations unanimously in a 12-0 vote on Thursday. The subpoena vote followed the committee’s move to approve Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, a hearing committee Democrats boycotted.
Zuckerberg, Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are already scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28th. The executives are set to be questioned by lawmakers over whether Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act should be changed, citing allegations over perceived conservative bias on platforms.
Updated 10/22/20 at 10:43 AM ET: Facebook declined to comment.