Trump’s FCC chairman blasts Twitter for censoring conservatives
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 30, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai scolded Twitter this week for censoring conservative users of its platform.
Twitter strongly opposes Pai’s plan to repeal the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules for a return to pre-2015 regulatory framework and has said it will fight the effort, a stance the FCC chair dubbed pretense.
“Now look,” Pai said, “I love Twitter, and I use it all the time. But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to an open Internet, Twitter is part of the problem.”
“The company has a viewpoint,” he added, “and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”
Pai offered an example of Twitter recently blocking a Senate campaign announcement ad for U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, “because it featured a pro-life message.”
At a July event to protect net neutrality rules, Twitter had also warned users that a link to one company’s statement on Internet regulation “may be unsafe,” noted Pai.
“And, to say the least, the company appears to have a double standard when it comes to suspending or de-verifying conservative users’ accounts as opposed to those of liberal users,” Pai stated. “This conduct is many things, but it isn’t fighting for an open Internet.”
Pai made his comments at an Internet freedom symposium in Washington, D.C., for free market think tank R Street Institute and the Lincoln Network tech freedom advocacy group.
For most of the Internet’s existence until 2015, high-speed access has been treated by the FCC as a lightly regulated information service under Title I of the 1996 Communications Act. This was done away with at the urging of the Obama administration, whose controversial 2015 net neutrality rules changed the classification of Internet access to a heavily-regulated telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act.
The proposal to roll back the net neutrality regulations by Pai, a Trump appointee, has drawn fire from big tech companies, Hollywood celebrities and others preferring government regulation of the Internet.
The reversal is expected to pass on a party-line vote at the FCC's meeting next month, a CNN report said.
Free speech continues to be a significant concern as big tech and social media companies attempt to squelch speech for pro-life supporters, social conservatives, Christians, and other traditionally-minded parties.
Twitter had flagged Blackburn’s ad – which mentioned the Planned Parenthood baby body parts trafficking scandal – as “inflammatory” and “negative,” banning it unless Blackburn removed the reference to the abortion giant. Twitter later reversed its stance after its move garnered significant media attention and criticism.
The social media platform has also blocked Live Action’s ability to advertise, objecting to its tweets containing ultrasound images of unborn babies, it undercover Planned Parenthood investigations and calls for Congress to defund the abortion chain.
Twitter rejected an ad for a book earlier this year because it said marriage was between one man and one woman, and an ad from the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List was suppressed last month because it used the term “killing babies.”
Pai said in his address this week that “unfortunately, Twitter isn’t an outlier.”
“Indeed,” he said, “despite all the talk about the fear that broadband providers could decide what Internet content consumers can see, recent experience shows that so-called edge providers (of content, application or service via the Internet) are in fact deciding what content they see,” adding, “These providers routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like.”
He also listed examples from the past year of streaming services restricting videos from conservative commentator Dennis Prager on subjects he considers “important to understanding American values,” algorithms that decide what content users do and don’t see without themselves being disclosed, and online platforms covertly editing specific users’ comments.
“In this way,” Pai said, “edge providers are a much bigger actual threat to an open Internet than broadband providers, especially when it comes to discrimination on the basis of viewpoint.”