As GOP plays up censorship allegations, House subpoenas Big Tech CEOs

House Republicans are calling on big technology companies to cough up documents about their dealings with the Biden administration over online content moderationin an escalation of their efforts to advance allegations that Silicon Valley and Democrats are engaged in a broad conspiracyagainst conservative views.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced Wednesday that he had sent subpoenas to the CEOs of Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, Meta and Microsoft seeking information on “the federal government’s reported collusion with Big Tech to suppress free speech.” (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Conservatives have claimed for several years, often with primarily anecdotal evidence, that social media companies are “censoring” conservative viewpoints online and favoring Democrats. Last week, the Republican-led House held a hearing with former Twitter executives about the social media company’s decision to briefly block sharing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden.

The former executives pushed back on the narrative that the tech company was colluding with Democrats, but Republicans persisted with the years-long speculation.

GOP lawmakers allege Big Tech conspiracy, even as ex-Twitter employees rebut them

Social media companies have come under regular fire from both sides of the aisle for their handling of high-profile events and the spread of misinformation online. Democrats have often defended the companies’ decisions to take potentially harmful information down and have called for the companies to be more proactive, while Republicans have accused the companies of halting free speech.

Twitter was absent from Jordan’s subpoenas Wednesday. The social media company is now run by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has signaled that he is sympathetic to the conservative concern and has said he is concerned about online “free speech suppression.”

Congressional subpoenas pointed at tech companies are relatively rare. The former Twitter executives were subpoenaed to testify at their own request. And a Democrat-led House panel subpoenaed several tech companies abut election misinformation while investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Spokespeople for Microsoft and Meta said the companies had started producing documents for the committee. Amazon declined to comment. Apple and Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment.