The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), originally scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday regarding online censorship, has clarified that it will only submit written testimony due to concerns that the hearing will not be substantive.
The hearing on “Filtering Practices of Social Media Platforms” will take place on April 26 at 10 a.m. Originally, EFF was expected to attend in person on a panel, alongside YouTube personalities Diamond and Silk. EFF is a non-profit that claims it is dedicated to “defending civil liberties in the digital world.”
“The hearing we thought they were having kind of changed a lot,” EFF’s legislative counsel Ernesto Falcon told Axios. “It didn’t look like it was digging into substance.”
Politico reported Falcon wrote an email saying the organization was “initially interested in participating,” but the hearing has moved in a “different direction.”
A House Judiciary Committee aide reportedly told Axios, “Anyone who implies that the loss of engagement and earned media due to social media filtering is not a serious issue deserving of Congress’s attention grossly underestimates the influence of social media in our society.”
“Witnesses who decide to attend will have the opportunity to address these issues head-on and shape future policy,” the aide added.
Facebook, Google, and Twitter were all invited to send representatives to the hearing; however, none of them have responded.
During his congressional testimony on Capitol Hill, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled repeatedly about claims that Facebook had been suppressing the pro-Trump duo Diamond and Silk. According to a report by Erick Erickson, in a midst of claiming in their content has been suppressed by Facebook, Diamond and Silk had actually been having an increase in traffic to their Facebook page.
In addition to Diamond and Silk, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has also confirmed that she will be attending the hearing. Twitter famously blocked Blackburn from promoting her campaign advertisement on the site because of its reference to Planned Parenthood selling “baby body parts.” Twitter deemed the ad was “inflammatory” (a photo from the advertisement is included in this piece).
The Media Research Center recently released a report detailing the censorship of conservative viewpoints on social media. “CENSORED! How Online Media Companies Are Suppressing Conservative Speech” examined social media websites limiting conservative opinions.