Sen. Hawley Questions Why Facebook Should 'Get Special Immunities From the Goverment If They're Going to Engage in Blatant Political Censorship'

By Megan Williams | October 6, 2021 | 11:01am EDT
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)  (Getty Images)
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) (Getty Images)

(CNS News) -- When asked if Facebook should be allowed to restrict speech on its platform, Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said, “no,” they should not restrict “political speech” even though they can.

At the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, CNS News asked the senator, “Should Facebook be able to restrict speech on its platform?”

Hawley replied, “No. Well, I mean, if it’s violence. I mean, in the First Amendment context, we have a long standing rule on this, if it’s violent or if it’s inciting violence, then sure. But political speech? No, I don’t think they should.”

He continued, “I guess your question was, ‘Can they.’ I mean, they can, but I don’t know why they ought to get special immunities from the government, if they’re going to engage in blatant political censorship.”

Leading up to the 2020 elections, Facebook was placed in the spotlight for its apparent mishandling of information, specifically its push to censor conservative voices on its platform.

Facebook’s censorship, for instance, was displayed through its shutting down of the Hunter Biden Laptop story by the New York Post. Last October, the New York Post released a story regarding a laptop -- believed to be Hunter Biden’s -- that contained sensitive information about the Biden family’s dealings with Ukranian businesses.

However, Twitter and Facebook decided to censor and “dial down” the story’s spread because they alleged the story was unverified. Both platforms restricted re-postings of the story, did not allow the story to be direct messaged, and blocked the New York Post from posting.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“The newspaper with the fourth-leading circulation in the United States and big tech asserted the power to just silence them because they didn’t like what they were reporting,” Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) said. “I think it’s really dangerous.”

Following this scandal, the CEOs of both Facebook and Twitter were called into a Senate Judiciary Hearing and were questioned on their company’s processes for censoring posts and users.

“There are instances in which your platforms are taking a very distinctively partisan approach, and not a neutral one, to election content moderation,” Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) said.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Conservative organizations and users have seen a trend in the censorship of right-of-center content as well. Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell issued a statement alongside more than 20 conservative leaders condemning Facebook’s failure to address censorship concerns.

“Facebook has listened to the conservative movement’s complaints and in response has invited us to pound sand,” the statement read.

(Disclosure: CNS News is a division of the MRC.)  

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