House Republicans promised to seek a criminal charge against the billionaire if Meta doesn’t provide information to Congress
US House Republicans aim to hold Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress if his company fails to provide the documents they previously subpoenaed, which detail the federal government’s alleged censorship directives to the world’s largest social media platform.
A vote to hold Zuckerberg in contempt will be held on Thursday unless Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, turns over communications showing how it was pressured by government agencies to deny the free-speech rights of many Americans, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, told Fox News on Tuesday.
At issue are alleged efforts by President Joe Biden’s administration to control conversations on social media by pressuring major platforms to censor certain content. While the platforms themselves can legally choose how to restrict their content, government intervention to influence those decisions could infringe on free-speech rights. Jordan claimed that his committee has seen enough evidence to believe that Facebook faced censorship pressures similar to those disclosed earlier by Twitter founder Elon Musk.
“We think the same thing went on at Facebook, but we haven’t got those communications,” Jordan said. “So that’s what we’ve been pressing for, and if we have to go to contempt on Thursday, we will do that. We just want the information because we know this was going on.”
Jordan cited congressional testimony last week that revealed that the Biden administration tried to censor the speech of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now a Democrat candidate in the 2024 presidential election, just hours after the president took office in January 2021. “The Biden administration, literally 37 hours into their new administration, was looking to censor their Democrat presidential primary opponent. That’s not supposed to happen in America, but it did.”
Jordan also pointed to a court ruling earlier this month in which a federal judge found that Biden’s administration had tried to “stage-manage debate online,” assuming “a role similar to an Orwellian Ministry of Truth.”
Meta spokesman Andy Stone claimed that the company has complied with the House committee’s subpoena, providing more than 50,000 pages of documents since February. “For many months, Meta has operated in good faith with this committee’s sweeping requests for information,” he said in a statement.
Even if the Republican-controlled committee votes to hold Zuckerberg in contempt, it would be up to the Biden administration’s Department of Justice to decide whether to indict the Meta CEO. Such a charge is unlikely, so the contempt vote might be only a symbolic rebuke.