Van Duyne urges GOP House members to 'refuse any and all' Big Tech money over 'censorship'
Call comes after social media companies permanently suspended President Trump
Freshman GOP Rep. Beth Van Duyne is calling on House Republican colleagues to "refuse any and all contributions" from Big Tech companies, saying they are using their "power" to "silence conservative voices."
In a letter to House Republicans on Friday, Van Duyne, R-Texas, who was elected in November and recently sworn in, called out Big Tech companies, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon, and said they "have frequently abused their power and market dominance to effectively censor conservative voices."
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"Last week, this censorship reached a new, concerning level as Twitter permanently banned the President of the United States," Van Duyne wrote. "Other companies quickly followed suit, with Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and others banning the president."
Van Duyne said the permanent suspension of Trump from the platforms "has revealed a stunning double standard," slamming the social media companies for allowing content from leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and Iran to continue to use their platforms.
"This stunning double standard makes clear Twitter is not looking out for their users’ safety — they are wielding their dangerously influential market power to actively censor voices their top brass disagrees with," Van Duyne wrote.
Van Duyne said that she hopes the new Congress "will continue investigating and analyzing whether our laws are effectively governing how these companies are able to operate."
"In the meantime, we need to put our money where our mouth is," Van Duyne wrote to colleagues.
"In the wake of Big Tech’s escalating censorship of conservative voices, I am pledging to refuse any and all campaign contributions from Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon from this point forward," she wrote. "I would like to ask you to consider doing the same."
During her election cycle, Van Duyne did not receive any contributions from Big Tech companies.
"Big Tech is increasingly wielding their power and market dominance to silence conservative voices, and we need to put an end to it," she wrote. "Please join me in sending a clear message to those in Silicon Valley: if you’re going to censor conservative voices, we don’t want your money."
A GOP source told Fox News that without this commitment from House Republicans, it will make it difficult to effectively pass any type of reform, especially related to Section 230.
Republicans have questioned whether social media giants should still be afforded liability protections under Section 230 — a rule that shields social media companies from being held liable for content on their platforms while allowing them to moderate that content.
Van Duyne’s letter comes after President Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies after the Capitol riot last week. The platforms told Fox News that the president violated their policies.
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg first moved to permanently suspend him from the social media network, saying the "risks" of having him on the platform were too great.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this week also defended the company’s position to suspend the president’s account indefinitely.
"I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban @realDonaldTrump, or how we got here," Dorsey began a lengthy Twitter thread. "After a clear warning we’d take this action, we made a decision with the best information we had based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter. Was this correct?"
"I believe this was the right decision for Twitter," Dorsey continued. "We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.
"That said, having to ban an account has real and significant ramifications. While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation. And a time for us to reflect on our operations and the environment around us," the CEO went on.
Dorsey, though, acknowledged that such actions "fragment the public conversation," "divide us" and "limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning." He also admitted that the power of his corporation in the "global public conversation" has set a "dangerous" precedent.
"The check and accountability on this power has always been the fact that a service like Twitter is one small part of the larger public conversation happening across the internet. If folks do not agree with our rules and enforcement, they can simply go to another internet service," Dorsey wrote.
The CEO then pointed to other social media giants who have also suspended or permanently banned Trump's accounts, writing "I do not believe this was coordinated," but positing that such companies were likely "emboldened" by the actions of their competitors.
"This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet," Dorsey said. "A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same. Yes, we all need to look critically at inconsistencies of our policy and enforcement. Yes, we need to look at how our service might incentivize distraction and harm. Yes, we need more transparency in our moderation operations. All this can’t erode a free and open global internet."
Dorsey added: "I believe the internet and global public conversation is our best and most relevant method of achieving this. I also recognize it does not feel that way today. Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together."