WATCH: Guess Which Lawmakers Stood Up for Free Speech at Big Tech Hearing

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing supposedly to discuss sunsetting Big Tech’s tightly clutched liability shield that allows for censorship. But free speech and Big Tech censorship were hardly part of the discussion.

During the May 22 hearing the Committee heard from three left-wing witnesses, a plaintiff’s lawyer, a former Democrat committee staffer and the Director of Engine Executive, which is funded by Google. But despite the fact that Big Tech censors justify silencing their users under the protection of Section 230, the Committee did not manage to bring in a single witness who showed up in support of free speech. In the three-hour hearing, only four members of the Committee even asked questions about Big Tech censorship and free speech.

MRC Free Speech Vice President Dan Schneider, who attended the hearing, criticized the witnesses and most of the members for focusing on prohibiting already illegal content rather than promoting free speech. “It is fine for the Committee to be angry that Big Tech fails to remove illegal content. Nobody should tolerate illicit drug sales, human trafficking and other illegal practices, but those things are already illegal online,” Schneider said, before adding, “We don’t need to make online crimes doubly illegal. The laws just need to be enforced. The systemic harm that must be addressed in any Section 230 reform legislation is the abuse by Big Tech in how they discriminate based on political disagreements.”

Representatives Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Russ Fulcher (R-ID) and Neal Dunn (R-FL) were the only members on the Committee who thought to address this discrimination. 

Rep. Obernolte pushed a witness and former Democratic staffer, Organization for Social Media Safety CEO Marc Berkman, to address free speech concerns.

[See More: Rep. Jay Obernolte Presses Witnesses Tummarello and Berman on Free Speech]

Rep. Harshbarger asked Berkman about expanding “the rights of individuals to express views that often get conservatives kicked off of left-wing companies like Facebook.” Berkman ridiculously responded, “We do believe that’s a red herring.” But Berkman’s retort is contrary to the 6,816 cases of documented Big Tech censorship found on MRC Free Speech America’s exclusive CensorTrack database, including 187 against former President of the United States Donald Trump.

Despite calling censorship a red herring, Berkman was unwilling to condemn discriminatory conduct by social media companies when Rep. Harshbarger provided him with a hypothetical case of a social media company shutting off comments on some posts but not others. 

Rep. Dunn, to his credit, emphasized censorship when he spoke to the witnesses. “Today our internet is under attack. The American public gets very little insight into decision-making processes when content is moderated, and users have little recourse when they are censored or restricted. Recently, Americans have experienced a great deal of online politicizing from Big Tech during the last presidential election,” Dunn said. He followed with a reminder of the absurd Big Tech-government collusion in violation of Americans’ rights. “For example, you saw platforms like Twitter and Facebook immediately cut stories from being shared or talked about by the users on their platforms at the request of our government.” 

The Organization for Social Media Safety CEO didn’t appear to care. When Dunn asked Berkman about how his proposal would impact free speech on the internet, Berkman claimed, “We believe the fears are really overblown in terms of impact on free speech that is happening over social media.” 

Rep. Fulcher also spoke up for free speech, bringing up the important questions of whether users deserve transparency and accountability from the social media companies that censor them. Fulcher asked a witness, “When social media companies flag or remove content, is there any reporting requirement whatsoever necessary for that?”   

Schneider panned the hearing, noting that all the witnesses and most of the members showed no concern for free speech. He even called out House Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) for arguing that the “tech oligarchs have not censored enough bad stuff,” instead of addressing the censorship of conservatives. 

“The so-called free speech hearing left me speechless,” Schneider said, before adding, “This hearing intentionally hid the ball. The biggest problem facing America and the continuity of our system of government is Big Tech’s silencing of viewpoints they disagree with. But for a couple of exceptions, all the questions focused on how there needs to be more censorship, not less.”

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.

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