Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee emerged as a leading voice against Big Tech by introducing a bill to hold platforms accountable for viewpoint censorship and supporting a separate bill to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Lee introduced the Promoting Responsibility Over Moderation In the Social Media Environment Act (S.4975) Tuesday in the Senate. The bill — colloquially called the PROMISE Act — would require social media platforms to disclose their content moderation policies to users and would be barred from moderating certain types of content, according to a press release.
“The billionaires who own our nation’s Big Tech companies have every right to be partisan political actors,” Lee said in a statement. “What they don’t have a right to do is make promises to consumers that they will provide unbiased platforms and then discriminate against conservatives on those same platforms.”
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) December 9, 2020
Republican lawmakers have expressed concern that Big Tech companies like Twitter, Facebook and Google are using their online platforms to blacklist or censor conservative viewpoints.
Twitter flagged the accounts of President Donald Trump and his campaign multiple times for election-related posts the social media giant said violated its content rules. Twitter also froze the New York Post’s account for more than two weeks after the publication reported on Hunter Biden’s alleged laptop.
Facebook took down multiple advertisements by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, and has censored similar content from other pro-life groups. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted in 2019 there “clearly was bias” over the monitoring of pro-life content on the platform, Fox News reported.
Google came under fire earlier this year after a command function bug revealed the company’s search engine effectively blacklisted an internally-generated list of conservative news outlets, Mediaite reported. Internal memos obtained by the Daily Caller in 2019 showed that the search engine previously used an “XPA news blacklist” tool to single out conservative content.
Lee also issued a statement of support Thursday for the Online Content Policy Modernization Act (S.4632) — introduced by Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — after consideration of the legislation was postponed.
Graham’s bill would reform Section 230 so that online platforms could be held liable for moderating certain types of content. Such an overhaul of tech liability protections would almost certainly force companies to change their moderation practices, according to Politico. (RELATED: Trump Accuses Republicans Of Getting ‘Cold Feet’ On Abolishing Section 230)
“Facebook and Twitter have claimed political neutrality while practicing political partisanship for far too long. That is why I would have voted for Senator Graham’s legislation to move through the Committee,” Lee said in a statement. “He has worked with me to iron out some issues in his bill, and I trust he will continue to work with me to iron out a few others in the coming Congress.”
Republicans have taken a growing interest in overhauling Section 230. Trump even called for Section 230 to be “immediately terminated” in a Nov. 26 tweet and has said he will veto the annual defense budget if it does not include language abolishing the legal statute.
For purposes of National Security, Section 230 must be immediately terminated!!!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2020