In a letter to Microsoft president Brad Smith, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) argued that Microsoft should face the same antitrust scrutiny as other Big Tech giants such as Facebook.
“Big Tech, including Microsoft, Inc., is out to get conservatives,” wrote Jordan. “Despite Microsoft’s size and market dominance, House Democrats curiously did not significantly examine Microsoft’s conduct during their investigation of competition in digital markets. Democrats also seem to have excluded Microsoft from scrutiny in their large package of bills to radically rewrite American antitrust law. We write to request more information about these matters.”
Jordan then continued to discuss Microsoft’s history of acquiring companies and the Democrats’ exclusion of the Big Tech giant from antitrust scrutiny.
“Over the last three decades, Microsoft has acquired over 200 companies. At almost $2 trillion, Microsoft’s current market valuation is second only to Apple, Inc. among American companies. Microsoft has a commanding position in various markets. Among the office suite market, for instance, Microsoft has captured an estimated 87.5 percent of the market. As Democrats have excluded Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny, commentators have noted how Microsoft has taken advantage of the circumstances to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy,” Jordan wrote. “Microsoft has also taken increasingly aggressive editorial control over content on its platforms. On behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, Microsoft has censored Bing search engine results of Tank Man on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests—including results for users in the United States—and has muzzled the voices of China critics on LinkedIn.”
“Microsoft has similarly censored conservative speech on LinkedIn in the United States,” Jordan claimed, listing examples which included “Microsoft’s censorship of posts related to Hunter Biden,” the censorship of “a post by an opinion editor at the Washington Times about Democrats’ abuse of executive orders,” and the restriction of “accounts for posts related to COVID-19.”
Jordan then argued that “Microsoft is exerting editorial control over user-generated content in its word processing program, Microsoft Word,” writing that “Microsoft Word’s ‘Ideas in Word’ tool urges users to avoid language that Microsoft dislikes and instead to adopt language Microsoft considers to be appropriate and ‘gender neutral.’”
“Not only is this censorship Orwellian, but given Microsoft Word’s vague terms of service — which prohibit any ‘hate speech’ or ‘offensive language’ as defined by Microsoft — this censorship creates the potential for Microsoft to prevent users from generating certain content on Microsoft Word altogether,” Jordan wrote.
“It is unclear why Microsoft has avoided significant attention from House Democrats,” stated Jordan. “The Democrats’ investigation excluded Microsoft from significant oversight and the Democrats’ recently introduced bills include a definition of a ‘covered platform’ that could be read to exclude Microsoft. In fact, Rep. David Cicilline, the lead Democrat drafter of these bills, told Bloomberg that ‘it would be up to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to make that determination.’”
The Ohio Republican then requested the following information:
- Does Microsoft consider itself to be a “covered platform” as defined in the antitrust legislation introduced by House Democrats?
- If the antitrust legislation introduced by House Democrats becomes law, will Microsoft stop exerting editorial control over user content on its platforms?
- Please explain Microsoft’s basis for censoring user content about Hunter Biden.
- Please explain Microsoft’s basis for censoring user content about the origins of COVID-19.
- Please provide an accounting of all content moderation decisions made by LinkedIn over the last two years for users located within the United States or China, including which LinkedIn rule or policy the user allegedly violated and the content of the moderated post.
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