Get the latest market trends in your inbox

Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with the Axios Markets newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Minneapolis-St. Paul

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa-St. Petersburg news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa-St. Petersburg

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Screenshot of Free Our Internet popup ad on Breitbart.com

Conservative lawmakers and media figures have used Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to argue that Facebook uses its power and reach to censor conservative voices, such as the pro-Trump YouTube act Diamond and Silk.

Why it matters: With midterms around the corner, conservatives are using allegations of tech censorship as a rallying cry for voters who see Big Tech as part of the liberal establishment.

  • Fox News and Fox Business have been framing the Facebook hearing as more about censorship of conservative voices than about privacy. “Here you’ve got the biggest provider of news in the U.S., far more power than William Randolph Hearst ever had, with a long and proven track record of censorship in this country and other countries and with the power to change election results,” Tucker Carlson said on his show Tuesday night.
  • Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator who is reportedly one of the most engaging journalists on Facebook, tweeted, "Just one senator needs to ask Zuckerberg what makes his platform a platform rather than a publisher, given the amount of censorship in which Facebook is currently engaged."
  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) hounded Zuckerberg about the issue: "There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned that Facebook and other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias and political censorship."
  • Rep Joe Barton (R-TX) asked Zuckerberg about the company's censorship of the Diamond and Silk video-blogging duo. Zuckerberg called the banning an "enforcement error."

A narrative has been brewing among conservative publishers that Facebook is intentionally targeting conservative news websites with content censorship and algorithm changes to downplay their content.

  • "Facebook has repeatedly punished a fast-growing news website for its conservative views on immigration and other topics — suspending its moderators, censoring content, and threatening to close the site down," Brietbart alleged in a Monday story.
  • Now, conservative groups are running ads on conservative sites like Breitbart with the rallying cry, "Don't get Zucked. End Facebook's censorship of conservatives." One such advertiser, Free Our Internet, asks viewers to sign a letter to Congress to "stand up to these out of control Silicon Valley monopolies that steal our information and censor our voices online."

This is not the first time Facebook has faced allegations of political bias. In May 2016, the company came under fire for reports that its human moderators were suppressing conservative content, leading to an inquiry by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The tech industry has become a target for conservatives because many internet companies are based in left-leaning Silicon Valley, with liberal leadership and employees, helping fuel complaints of internal bias.

Our thought bubble: Facebook prizes openness and has no economic interest in censoring political viewpoints. Conflicts around censorship bias have often developed around some far-right statements on hot-button issues like immigration and Islamist extremism, which moderators may find conflict with Facebook's prohibition against hate speech. The policy states, "Content that attacks people based on their actual or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or disease is not allowed."

Any banning of content or accounts goes through a review process. Zuckerberg did, however, admit doing the hearing that the company doesn't always get that process right: "With the amount of content in our systems and the current systems we have in place to review, we have a small amount of mistakes, but that’s too many...I get how people can look at that and build that [censorship] conclusion."

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

3 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Get Axios AM in your inbox

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!