The following letter has been sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation. It was sent by Brent Bozell of the Media Research Council:
Dear Chairman and Ranking Member:
Facebook has been caught red-handed deliberately suppressing and manipulating news and commentary in the wake of one of our country’s most divisive and tumultuous elections ever.
According to a November 25, 2020, article in The New York Times, after this most recent presidential election, “‘[Facebook] Employees proposed an emergency change to the site’s news feed algorithm, which helps determine what more than two billion people see every day. It involved emphasizing the importance of what Facebook calls ‘news ecosystem quality’ scores, or N.E.Q., a secret internal ranking it assigns to news publishers based on signals about the quality of their journalism…. ‘Mr. Zuckerberg agreed to increase the weight that Facebook’s algorithm gave to N.E.Q. scores to make sure authoritative news appeared more prominently, said three people with knowledge of the decision, who were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.’”
“Authoritative news sources” predictably included outlets such CNN, The Times and NPR, while news and blogs from outlets such as Breitbart were deemed false or divisive and were throttled therefore by Facebook’s new algorithm.
Such manipulation of Facebook’s algorithm, especially at such a precarious time in our country, is wholly unacceptable. Such manipulations are dangerous, and possibly even fatal, for the future of fair and free elections. Even more, it’s censorship of ideas that Facebook and the liberal media oppose.
As a private entity, Facebook has the right, under our Constitution, to freedom of speech — and it should be no other way. However, as things currently stand, protections that Facebook and other social media “platforms” enjoy under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) are not free speech. Section 230 gives social media platforms, such as Facebook, undeserved protection from liability. Facebook is an ideologically driven publisher of editoralized content that used its dominating market power to deliberately and successively swing the election in favor of its preferred presidential candidate, Joe Biden.
This must be remedied immediately. Representative Greg Steube, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and the American Principles Project have all crafted solid proposals to reform Section 230. Congress should use these proposals as a road map and move forward with reforming Section 230.
Facebook and Twitter, along with the rest of the radical left, are almost certainly responsible for costing President Donald Trump this past election. We know this because a recent McLaughlin poll conducted of Biden voters found that if they had known of just one story, the Hunter Biden corruption story broken by the New York Post, 4.6% of Biden’s voters said they would not have selected him for President. With such slim voter margins, lowering Biden’s voter count by 4.6% would have cost him four states and the election. But even more shocking and more specific, an even more recent study commissioned by the Media Research Center found that 17% of Biden Voter’s in key swing states would not have voted for Biden had they known about the most important news stories from this past election year! These important news stories are precisely the types of stories that Facebook was throttling both leading up to the election and in the wake of the election.
This deliberate electioneering on the part of Facebook is an historic outrage which Congress must take seriously, and must take action against them now.
Consider, in 2020, 81% of Americans are on Facebook, that’s over 223 million people in the U.S. according to Statista. That number is projected to continue to rise by more than 2 million more users by 2024. That kind of market dominance is unparalleled in American political and media history.
Given their massive market dominance and power, if Facebook’s unfair protection from liability under Section 230 is not severely curtailed, Americans will no longer vote for their elected representatives — Facebook will decide who our political masters are. As America’s duly elected representatives, it is your duty to make sure that doesn’t happen. It is your duty to rein in Facebook and the other social media platforms which have all but hijacked our electoral system. Don’t allow Big Tech to usurp freedom of speech in this country.
L. Brent Bozell III
MRC Founder and President