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FCC chair keeps up assault on social media

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx/Axios

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer."

The bigger picture: Pai is taking on Silicon Valley giants as he tries to repeal net neutrality rules. Yesterday, Pai said web platforms are more of a threat to free speech than the internet service providers. Today he's arguing they are responsible for polarizing Americans politically and alienating them personally.

What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. … This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.

And he argued it's caused people to lose their roots in the real world. "In a way, one could say that 'social media' is perhaps the most inapt phrase ever coined," he said. "It allows us to stay in touch while keeping a distance. It has sped the breakdown in human interaction."

Go deeper: Our reporting on Pai's comments on Tuesday, and Silicon Valley's response.

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