Apr 24, 2018 - Technology

Tech group won't appear at social media hearing with Diamond and Silk

House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When the House Judiciary Committee holds a hearing Thursday on whether online platforms censor conservative voices, one advocacy group that had been expected to give in person testimony won't be at the witness table.

Why it matters: The Electronic Frontier Foundation cited concerns the discussion wouldn't be substantive. Its absence could make the hearing, featuring conservative video stars Diamond and Silk and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, even more political.

What they're saying: When the committee announced its hearing focusing, in part, on "whether viewpoints have been silenced on some of the most popular and widely used platforms," it said EFF legal director Corynne McSherry would be a witness. But EFF's legislative counsel Ernesto Falcon said that the group had never committed to testify in person and will instead submit written testimony.

  • “The hearing we thought they were having kind of changed a lot,” he told Axios. “It didn’t look like it was digging into substance.”
  • "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," said a House Judiciary Committee aide. "Witnesses who decide to attend will have the opportunity to address these issues head-on and shape future policy."
  • McSherry is still listed as a witness on the committee's website.

What's next: Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been invited to send representatives to the hearing but haven't yet said publicly whether they plan to accept the invitation.

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