The five major tech company CEOs have received subpoenas as congressional Republicans continue to look into alleged pervasive corporate repression of conservative viewpoints.
The subpoenas were issued by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, as the most recent in a string of escalations by a group that has long threatened to look into Big Tech’s content filtering, particularly with regard to COVID-19.
The letters were addressed to Andy Jassy of Amazon.com, Sundar Pichai of Alphabet, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Tim Cook of Apple, and Mark Zuckerberg of Meta.
The committee’s goal was to “examine how and to what extent the Executive Branch forced and collaborated with firms and their intermediaries to restrict expression,” according to Jordan’s statement in them.
Both Microsoft and Meta have already started releasing documentation, according to their respective spokespeople on Wednesday. Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The corporations were instructed by the committee to turn over by March 23 any correspondence between them and the executive branch of the American government regarding the deletion, moderation, suppression, or reduced distribution of content.
Twitter is noticeably absent from the list of businesses that have been summoned. Compared to Twitter’s prior leadership, the new owner, Tesla inventor Elon Musk, has shown to be more friendly to conservatives.
Three former Twitter executives testified just last week before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee over the company’s choice to withhold a New York Post piece in October 2020 about the contents of a laptop owned by Hunter Biden.
The former workers admitted during the hearing that they erred by removing a story about the president’s son from social media in the run-up to the 2020 election, but they vehemently refuted claims made by the GOP that they were under pressure from Dems. and law enforcement to do so.
Jordan explained in his letter on Wednesday how Musk’s choice to provide independent journalists access to a wealth of corporate information last year “had highlighted how Big Tech and the federal govt. have worked hand in hand in ways that threaten First Amendment values.”
The “Twitter Files” documents and data primarily depict internal discussions among staff members on the choice to temporarily restrict links to the Hunter Biden article. A targeted influence campaign by Democrats or the FBI, which also has denied having any role in Twitter’s decision-making, was not sufficiently supported by the tweet threads.
GOP leaders have been summoning executives from digital companies to testify about alleged political prejudice for years. This month’s hearing and following subpoenas are a continuation of that practice. Democrats, on the other hand, have pressured businesses to disseminate false information and hate speech on their platforms.