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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.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that restrictions previously imposed on New York places of worship by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) during the coronavirus pandemic violated the First Amendment.

Why it matters: The decision in a 5-4 vote heralds the first significant action by the new President Trump-appointed conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who cast the deciding vote in favor of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Jewish synagogues.

USAID chief tests positive for coronavirus

An Air Force cargo jet delivers USAID supplies to Russia earlier this year. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images

The acting administrator of the United States Agency for International Development informed senior staff Wednesday he has tested positive for coronavirus, two sources familiar with the call tell Axios.

Why it matters: John Barsa, who staffers say rarely wears a mask in their office, is the latest in a series of senior administration officials to contract the virus. His positive diagnosis comes amid broader turmoil at the agency following the election.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
10 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 shows a bright future for vaccines

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Promising results from COVID-19 vaccine trials offer hope not just that the pandemic could be ended sooner than expected, but that medicine itself may have a powerful new weapon.

Why it matters: Vaccines are, in the words of one expert, "the single most life-saving innovation ever," but progress had slowed in recent years. New gene-based technology that sped the arrival of the COVID vaccine will boost the overall field, and could even extend to mass killers like cancer.

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