Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg ran smack into questions about the site’s neutrality during his testimony in front of members of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) questioned Zuckerberg, asking if the site is a neutral platform for people to express different political opinions. Zuckerberg said he is “very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas.”
During his questioning, Cruz said that Americans are “deeply concerned” over allegations that Facebook engages in political censorship and bias. Cruz mentioned the 2016 Gizmodo report which claims that Facebook’s news curators section stopped topics such as the Conservative Political Action Conference and Mitt Romney from appearing in users’ “trending” feeds. He also mentioned various anecdotes that lead people to believe Facebook is biased against conservatives, such as Fox News’ Todd Starnes having his Facebook post deleted (before receiving an apology).
Zuckerberg responded to the question by saying that people’s concerns over political bias stem from where Silicon Valley is located, but that he tries to “root out” political bias in the company:
Senator, let me say a few things about this. First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. This is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure we don’t have any bias in the work we do. And I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.
Pressed on whether the company has taken measures against Planned Parenthood, MoveOn.org, and Democrats running for office, Zuckerberg said he was not aware of anything.
Zuckerberg also claimed he does not ask prospective employees about their political leanings and does not fire people based on their views. He also said he was unaware of his employees in charge of reviewing content have donated to Republican candidates.
Zuckerberg also took the time during Cruz’s questioning to claim that he wants to make Facebook “a platform for all ideas”:
I am very committed to making sure that Facebook is a platform for all ideas. That is a very important founding principle of what we do and we're proud of the discourse and the different ideas that people can share on the service. And that is something that, as long as I'm running the company, I'm going to be committed to making sure is the case.
Despite claiming to be a platform for “all ideas,” Facebook recently took down the Britain First Facebook page and the accounts for its leaders, claiming the group’s political views “crosse[d] the line” into “hate.”