Republicans escalated their threats to crackdown on tech giants on Wednesday after Facebook’s board of directors confirmed the company’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Kevin McCarthy, minority chairman of the House of Representatives, R-Calif., Vowed to “curb the great technical power over our speech” while other GOP lawmakers and Trump allies went further.
“It is time we broke up big technology, not just regulate,” Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News after the board made its decision.
Trump, who is out of office but continues to play a dominant role in Republican politics, said in a statement that “corrupt social media companies must pay a political price and must never again destroy or decimate our electoral process”.
The decision to uphold the former president’s suspensions – at least for now – could have an impact on the GOP’s message as it aims to regain majority control of the house in 2022 on a platform of pro-Trump populism.
Trump was suspended by a crowd of his supporters from numerous online platforms after the deadly invasion of the Capitol on January 6th. In its decision on Wednesday morning, the board of directors said that Trump’s contributions on that day “violated Facebook’s rules that prohibit praise or support for people involved in violence” – even as he was the rioter all in one Video addressed by saying, “We love you. You are very special.”
The board also criticized Facebook for making Trump’s ban “indefinite” and gave the company six months to review the matter and “determine the appropriate punishment.”
After Trump was indicted in the House of inciting an attempted insurrection and later acquitted in the Senate, he now has most of his party’s support and is openly weighing a White House run in 2024. He also teases the launch of his own competing media tools.
Republicans and Democrats have previously called for greater scrutiny and regulation of big tech, an industry that has repeatedly raised concerns about antitrust, privacy, national security, and a host of other issues. For example, Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Advocated the dissolution of Amazon, Google, and Facebook during her 2020 presidential motion.
But the decision, Trump, who has never conceded to President Joe Biden and continues to falsely claim to claim the 2020 race, was stolen from him through widespread fraud, lawmakers divided on partisan lines.
Republicans turned down the move to silence the former president, accusing Facebook and its governing body of political bias.
“Facebook is more interested in behaving like a democratic super-PAC than in a platform for free speech and open debate,” wrote McCarthy on Twitter, which Trump has also banned.
“If they can ban President Trump, all conservative votes could be next. A Republican majority in the House of Representatives will limit the great technical power over our speech,” the GOP leader tweeted.
“Facebook’s monopoly status has led its leaders to believe that it can silence and censor American speech without impact,” said Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., Member of the House Judiciary Committee, in a Explanation.
“Now more than ever we need an aggressive cartel reform to break the Facebook monopoly,” said Buck.
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the senior Republican of Justice, was even more blunt.
“Break them up,” he tweeted.
Senator Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Described the move as “extremely disappointing,” adding, “It’s clear that Mark Zuckerberg sees himself as the arbiter of freedom of speech.”
Democrats meanwhile supported the board’s decision.
“I applaud this decision. Facebook is not the public space,” Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Told the Washington Post.
“Donald Trump is not a voiceless victim,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. “He well deserved his suspension from Facebook by spreading dangerous, violent lies.”
“Our nation is still living with the aftermath of the deadly uprising instigated by Donald Trump, and there is a clear and present danger that he will do it again,” he said. “The decision of the panel, which was financed by Facebook itself, confirms a minimal indicator of truth and decency.”
“Facebook must now decide what it values more: profits or to hold Donald Trump accountable for hatred, disinformation and violence,” said Blumenthal.
Warren tweeted, “Trump should be banned forever,” but stopped praising Facebook.
“Facebook is a disinformation-for-profit machine that takes no responsibility for its role in the security of our democracy and our people,” said Warren’s tweet.
The company “will continue to fiddle with its power until Congress and antitrust authorities curb Big Tech,” she tweeted.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., Pushed back freedom of speech for Republicans.
“There is no constitutional protection for using social media to spark a riot. Trump is ready to do anything for himself, regardless of the danger to our country,” Schiff tweeted.
“Its big lies have cost America dearly. And until it stops, Facebook must ban it. That means, forever.”
Trump, a prolific social media user, is also one of the biggest critics. He has long accused companies of bias against him and demands that their legal protections be lifted.
In his final weeks in office, Trump urged Congress to repeal Section 230, a decade-old law protecting tech companies from being held responsible for what users post on their platforms. He even went so far as to link the problem to the passage of a non-partisan defense spending bill and the passage of a round of coronavirus stimulus checks.
Conservatives and other critics of large social media sites have advocated alternative platforms in recent years. People in Trump’s orbit recently spiced up the possibility that Trump could soon reveal his own offer.
“Additional platforms will be rolled out in the next two to six weeks,” Meadows said on Fox on Wednesday.
Trump is “now fully occupied with retaking the House and Senate in 2022,” said the former chief of staff.
Meadows added that “there will be rallies that will be happening very soon.”