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Letter to The Honorable William P. Barr, Attorney General of the United States Department of Justice - Rep. Buck Calls on DOJ to Investigate Censorship of News Outlet on Social Media Platforms

Letter

By: Ken Buck
By: Ken Buck
Date: Oct. 16, 2020
Location: Washington, DC

I write to express my concerns regarding Twitter and Facebook's recent actions to censor a prominent
American news outlet. These actions violate the platform's immunity under Section 230 of the
Communications Decency Act and threaten to chill free speech throughout our nation.
Recent reports and user videos indicate that Twitter is prohibiting users from sharing the New York
Post's article detailing Hunter Biden's alleged email correspondence. In fact, the platform populates a
message for users attempting to share the story that states, "Your Tweet couldn't be sent because this
link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to
learn more."
Similarly, Facebook announced it has taken action to reduce the article's distribution on its platform. "I
want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking
partners," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted Wednesday. "In the meantime, we are reducing
its distribution on our platform."
Platforms are granted broad immunity from prosecution under Section 230 in order to allow users to
exercise their First Amendment right to free speech with limited moderation of only the most egregious
and illegal communications. Twitter and Facebook's editorial decisions to block the New York Post's
story, while allowing the President to Iran to issue death threats against United States servicemembers,
do not meet the narrow content moderation protections granted to platforms under Section 230.
As such, I urge the DOJ to open an investigation into Twitter and Facebook's harmful actions to censor
free speech and curtail Americans' access to a free press. I also urge the DOJ to consider removing
Section 230 immunity for social media platforms that engage in political content moderation. Thank you
in advance for your consideration of this timely request.


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