Commentary

Tony Perkins: Facebook Faces Questions on Bias with Letter from Senators

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Tony Perkins
By Tony Perkins | September 13, 2019 | 3:32 PM EDT

FRC President Tony Perkins (right) (Screenshot) and Facebook Application (left) (Photo by ALASTAIR PIKE/AFP/Getty Images)

“If this isn't bias, what is?” Good question – one that Facebook had better be prepared to answer. If they don't, at least four senators are about to make life difficult for more than CEO Mark Zuckerberg. After months insisting there's “no prejudice” against conservatives, Americans aren't buying it. Neither is Congress, and that's bad news for the Big Tech liberals at Twitter, Google, and Pinterest.

Other organizations might think it was a mistake. But the pro-life group Live Action knew better. They'd just been through this in June with another company – only Pinterest had a clever way of suppressing the message. They reclassified the entire organization as a porn site. Facebook, on the other hand, was a lot more open about their agenda. According to National Review, when Lila Rose posted two videos insisting abortion isn't medically necessary, they were labeled “false” and censored.

In a pointed letter to Zuckerberg, Senators Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) explain how interesting this is, since Facebook's “fact-checkers” are supposedly “certified” through a nonpartisan group. If that's the case, how does Zuckerberg explain putting two pro-abortion activists with “significant ties to abortion-rights advocacy organizations” in charge of Live Action's content?

“... No reasonable person would describe [these activists] are neutral or objective when it comes to the issue of abortion,” they write, “yet Facebook relied on their rating to suppress and censor a pro-life organization with more than three million followers. These are clear violations of the IFCN principle and of Facebook's supposed commitment to nonpartisanship.”

Like Twitter, Google, Pinterest, and other platforms, Facebook insists these are glitches. That's funny, these senators would say, since these “glitches” only seem to affect conservatives. The political optics must not have been lost on Facebook, who contacted Live Action within hours of the letter and informed the group that its posts had been restored. In a tweet, Senator Hawley celebrated the news that Zuckerberg had also asked the company's “‘independent’ fact check organization to open investigation into how pro-abortion activists got certified as ‘neutral’ fact checkers.”

Still, he argues, if Facebook isn't doing this on purpose, then it's time to submit to an external audit. “It's really telling,” he explained on Thursday's “Washington Watch.” “I mean, they're willing to say, ‘Oh, we made a mistake. They promise to fix it. [But it's] a pattern. And when you say ... ‘Why don't you prove it? Why don't you prove your good faith?’ By the way, Facebook has been up to testify in front of me [and] in front of the Senate. At the end they say things like, ‘We never discriminate on the basis of political views.’ Okay, so just open your books. But that they shut down. So I think it shows you they have something to hide.”

And that's a problem, Hawley knows – not just because they're a major corporation, but because they get special protections that other companies don't get.

“Facebook gets a special immunity from [law]suits – immunity from accountability, really. So groups like Live Action, they can't sue Facebook under the law. They can't pursue any kind of remedy under the law because Facebook is immune. That's because of the federal government. The federal government has given them this special deal. It's worth billions of dollars to Facebook. I mean, it's really a massive subsidy from the American taxpayer. And that's why I say if Facebook is going to censor, if they're going to discriminate, why are we being forced to subsidize it? Why are we being forced to protect them with the power of the law and taxpayer money? That needs to stop.”

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC Action senior writers.

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by the Family Research Council.

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