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Months after subpoenaing Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg as part of a censorship investigation, a GOP-led House panel announced on Tuesday a plan to move forward with trying to punish the Big Tech executive for allegedly not complying with its demands.
The Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH), said a markup session is scheduled for Thursday afternoon during which members will consider a report recommending the full House chamber vote on citing Zuckerberg for contempt of Congress.
“The Committee’s subpoena to Meta, issued on February 15, 2023, requires, among other things, that Meta produce material concerning its engagement with the Executive Branch and Meta’s decisions and policies regarding content moderation,” the panel’s report said. “Although directly responsive to the Committee’s subpoena, Meta has failed to produce nearly all of the relevant documents internal to the company.”
In a statement posted to social media, Meta claimed to have operated in “good faith” to comply with “sweeping requests” from the committee for months, even before the subpoena was issued in February.
“To date we have delivered over 53,000 pages of documents — both internal and external — and have made nearly a dozen current and former employees available to discuss external and internal matters, including some scheduled this very week,” Meta added. “Meta will continue to comply, as we have thus far, with good faith requests from the committee.”
In addition to Zuckerberg, top executives from Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple were also subpoenaed in February with a deadline set toward the end of March. While Republicans have set their focus on the issue of censorship, Democrats have generally been more concerned about the spread of false information and extremism on social media platforms.
Twitter, which this week owner Elon Musk rebranded to X, did not appear on the subpoena list. At the time, Jordan touted how Twitter “set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with government over censorship” following the release of The Twitter Files.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook that recently introduced its Twitter-competitor app called Threads, had as of Tuesday “produced only documents between Meta and external entities and a small subset of relevant internal documents” to the House Judiciary Committee, the panel’s report said.
The committee “has a particular need for Meta’s internal documents, which would shed light on how Meta understood, evaluated, and responded to the Executive Branch’s requests or directives to censor content, as well as Meta’s decision-making process to censor viewpoints in the modern town square,” the panel added.
While alluding to an ongoing lawsuit over alleged collusion between the federal government and social media companies to censor speech in violation of the First Amendment, the panel’s report indicated Congress may develop legislation to enact “new statutory limits on the Executive Branch’s ability to work with technology companies to restrict the circulation of content and deplatform users.”
Among the recommendations made in the report, beyond holding Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress, is to have the House speaker refer the matter to the U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., and “otherwise take all appropriate action to enforce the subpoena.”