House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) subpoenaed the CEOS of major tech companies on Wednesday for documents related to their content moderation policies, including records of communication with the White House about free speech issues—the GOP’s latest move to prove the companies colluded with the Biden Administration to squelch free speech.
Jordan, in a letter to Sundar Pichai of Alphabet, Amazon’s Andy Jassy, Apple’s Tim Cook, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, requested all documents that show the companies’ communications with the White House about content moderation decisions, according to multiple reports.
The letter also seeks information about how the companies make content moderation decisions and information about the employees responsible for doing so, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Jordan used his newfound subpoena power as chair of the committee to issue a legal demand for the documents, after making a similar request in December, when the committee was still controlled by Democrats.
Microsoft said in a statement in response to the subpoena that it is “committed to working in good faith with the committee,” CNN reported, while Meta told The Wall Street Journal that it has “already begun producing documents” and “will continue to do so moving forward.”
Forbes has reached out to each of the companies subpoenaed.
The committee “must first understand how and to what extent the Executive Branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech,” Jordan reportedly wrote in the subpoena, explaining the overall goal of possible new legislation governing the relationship between government and Big Tech.
The House Oversight Committee is also conducting a similar probe, and subpoenaed four former Twitter employees last week to testify in a contentious hearing. Right-wing Congress members who were kicked off the platform under its previous owner confronted the employees about allegedly quelling coverage of the Hunter Biden story. Republican committee members also amplified their claims that the FBI urged the company to remove certain content (an allegation the Twitter employees firmly denied). Anika Collier Navaroli, the witness for Democrats on the committee, revealed during the hearing that the Trump Administration once contacted Twitter for the same purpose, namely to remove a critical Tweet about the president by celebrity Chrissy Teigen.
The committee did not demand documents from Twitter, whose owner Elon Musk has become a hero of sorts to Republicans as his own political leanings have shifted right. Musk, who has referred to himself as a “free speech absolutist,” bolstered Republicans’ claims that the Hunter Biden story was unfairly removed when Musk released the “Twitter Files” in December that revealed internal deliberations about the story. The company ultimately decided to remove it out of fear that it was a product of a Russian hacking scheme in violation of its anti-hacking policy, a decision employees have since said was a mistake. Jordan said in his letter issuing the subpoena that Twitter was not included because it “recently set a benchmark for how transparent Big Tech companies can be about interactions with government over censorship,” an apparent reference to the Twitter Files, CNN reported.
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