With all eyes turned toward Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are nonetheless hitting Capitol Hill to face a grilling from senators over conservative censorship.
But don’t look for any resolution.
These hearings make for good media. But fact is, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are stumped when it comes to controlling these social media giants. Are they media companies? Are they technology firms? Are they monopolies screaming for government regulation?
And really — are private firms the types of things conservatives want government to regulate anyway?
Good questions, all.
But neither Sandberg nor Dorsey, busy as they’ll be denying conservative censorship even exists, are likely to provide suitable answers.
This is the third such hearing being conducted by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and what’s come so far is short on solutions, heavy on showboating. Google, for crying out loud, one of the biggest thorn in the side of conservative social media users — many of whom seen their YouTube accounts suspended or halted, and their money-making abilities stripped — isn’t even making a show for this latest round. Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the committee, wanted CEO Larry Page to come; Google wanted to send company lawyer Kent Walker instead.
The committee refused, saying it’s policy, not legal jargon, that needs to be addressed.
And so it goes.
Truth is, Sandberg and Dorsey, no matter how they feign concern, really have no compelling interest to self-regulate or voluntarily join with the feds for government regulation. And another truth is: Neither do members of Congress, who are heavily invested in the very tech-slash-media companies they’re now tasked, by public demand, to reign in and control.
Know what that means?
It means the talkers on Capitol Hill will talk, the social media executives will hem and haw and meet and chat and feign all kinds of concern — but the censorship (what censorship?) will continue. Conservatives, if they want any redress at all, will have to either compromise free market ideals by demanding government regulation of private companies, or get on an entrepreneurial train and rush to create a new social media atmosphere. Left hand, right hand, either-or, doesn’t matter.
Neither bring the censorship relief conservatives seek and deserve.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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