Major Tech CEOs voiced their concerns about the so-called “cancel-culture mob” Wednesday during a House Judiciary Committee Hearing on anti-trust laws.
CEOs Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jeff Bezos of Amazon expressed concerns about the online efforts to stifle freedom of expression, according to a C-SPAN video clip. All of the CEOs, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai, agreed that free expression was critical to their technology platforms.
Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio posed the question on cancel culture to each CEO, according to the video.
“Mr. Cook, is the cancel-culture mob dangerous?” Jordan asked.
“It’s something that I’m not, uh, all the way up to speed on,” Cook said. “If you’re talking about where someone with a different point of view, uh, talks and they’re, they’re canceled, I don’t think that’s good. I think it’s good for people to hear different points of view and decide for themselves,” he said. (Related: ‘Put Your Mask Back On!’: Shouting Match Breaks Out During Antitrust Hearing After Rep Scanlon Snubs Jim Jordan)
Jordan referenced “the digital thunderdome,” a term that New York Times editor Bari Weiss used in her resignation letter to describe environment people with views outside the mainstream orthodoxy face online. Jordan pointed out Weiss is not a conservative, but “center-left,” and cancel culture will “target” anyone who disagrees with them. Weiss resigned on July 14 and criticized the NYT’s cancel culture, according to Vice.
“Are the rest of you concerned about the cancel-culture mob and what it’s up to?” Jordan asked.
Pichai told Jordan Google’s platforms are created to permit “freedom of expression” and said diversity of opinions on their platforms has increased, using YouTube as an example, according to the video. Jordan interrupted Pichai, expressing his concern when the cancel-culture mob criticizes anyone disagreeing with them.
Jim Jordan asked Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: “Is the Cancel Culture Mob dangerous?” Here is how they answered. (Quick thread.)
— JERRY DUNLEAVY (@JerryDunleavy) July 30, 2020
“I thought we had a first Amendment and yet, they constantly get attacked. How about you, Mr. Zuckerberg?” Jordan said.
Zuckerberg said he believed strongly in freedom of expression, and that “giving people a voice is an important part of what our services do.”
“I’m very worried about some of the forces of illiberalism that I see in this country that are pushing against free expression,” Zuckerberg said.
“One of the fundamental democratic traditions that we have in our country and it’s how we make progress over the long term on a number of issues and our company is committed to doing what we can to protect people’s voice,” Zuckerberg added.
Bezos voiced his own concerns and called social media in general a “nuance-destruction machine,” according to the video.
“I find a little discouraging, is that it appears to me that social media is a nuance-destruction machine. And I don’t think that’s helpful for a democracy,” Bezos said.
“I guess my point is, you are four pretty important guys, leading four of the most important companies on the planet. And it would sure be helpful if you spoke out against this,” Jordan said.
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