FCC chairman accuses Twitter of bias against conservatives
FCC chairman Ajit Pai accused Twitter and other tech companies of hypocritically calling for an "open internet" while they "routinely block or discriminate against content they don't like."
Pai called out the social media companies as part of his bid to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules.
Pai argued that it's actually the "edge providers," the FCC's term for services like Google (GOOGL, Tech30) and Facebook (FB, Tech30), that "are a much bigger actual threat to an open Internet than broadband providers, especially when it comes to discrimination on the basis of viewpoint."
Pai, a Republican commissioner appointed to head the agency by President Trump, specifically called out Twitter for appearing to have a "double standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users' accounts as opposed to those of liberal users.
He did not specify which conservative accounts he was referring to. Twitter recently removed the verification from several prominent users, including controversial conservative commentator Laura Loomer and white nationalists like Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler.
Pai also criticized Twitter for briefly blocking a campaign ad from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican representing Tennessee.
"When it comes to a free and open internet, Twitter is part of the problem," Pai said.
A spokesperson for Twitter said the ad was not censored. "Anyone voluntarily following her account could see it, as is their choice as a consumer when they choose to follow her," the spokesperson said. "Because advertisements are served to users who do not necessarily follow an account, we therefore have higher standards for their content."
Pai's decision to seek a full repeal of the rules was praised by the telecommunications trade groups as a boon for broadband investment, but loudly panned by the tech industry and consumer advocacy groups.
Twitter, Facebook, and other social media companies do nothing illegal by banning conservative content. They are private companies and can implement their own standards and practices.
But their towering hypocrisy about representing a "free and open" internet must be exposed for what it is: an attempt to manipulate the political content their subscribers are able to see. They can deem content from white supremacists "unacceptable" if they wish. But why do far-left groups like Antifa usually get a pass? This content bias extends to right-wingers who have merely controversial positions that aren't racist and promote small government. In short, Twitter and others have appointed themselves guardians of free thought – and they are failing miserably.
Repealing Obama net neutrality rules will likely be tied up in court for years – just as all other Trump regulatory initiatives. But Pai is hoping in the meantime to get the courts to approve his dismantling of net neutrality until the court cases are settled.