Senator Marsha Blackburn Addresses Social Media Censorship

October 20, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) spoke on the Senate floor to denounce the obvious censorship of conservative voices and the suppression of different opinions on various social media platforms.

To watch Senator Blackburn’s speech, click below or here.

You can read the transcript recorded in the Congressional Records below or click here.

MRS. BLAKCBURN: Mr. President, it doesn't take a genius to figure out

that there is a small but very loud sector of the American people who

are willing to condition their tolerance for diverging viewpoints on

how they feel, they themselves feel about what is being said,

worshipped, or reported. And as scary and as frightening as that

attitude is to many of us, it is increasingly reflected in the very

companies that have the most influence over how we access and consume


  Last week, we saw two of these companies go to extremes to get in

line with radicals who are trying to block, censor, and intimidate

their way into power. We all know the companies and the controversy I

am talking about. Twitter and Facebook censored the spread of a New

York Post article containing allegations that could potentially affect

the outcome of the upcoming election.

  That is all I am going to say about the article itself because,

frankly, the content bears no importance on how anyone should react to

what happened after it was posted. Someone working for a private

company--someone who is a content reviewer or content moderator--

someone working for a private company made a unilateral decision to

stop Americans from reading the article. They didn't like it. They

said: I have the power to stop it, and because I have that power, I am

going to stop it.

  Now that is precisely what happened, and I will tell you, colleagues,

it is not just that they blocked the link and the text of the article,

it is that at least in Twitter's case, they suspended the Trump

campaign's account; they suspended the New York Post account; they

locked the White House Press Secretary's account; and they suppressed

information posted by the House Judiciary Committee Republicans. They

couldn't even provide a plausible explanation for why they did this.

Think about that.

  They made themselves the arbiters of free speech, and they, in their

almighty position, decided they were going to determine what you could

hear, when you could hear it, and how you could hear it. They decided.

  The common element, of course, in all of this action that took place

was the New York Post story. Was it information or hacked information

or just inconvenient information? No one seems to want to answer that

question. Why do they not want to answer that question? It is because

they didn't like the information. It did not suit their narrative, but

the way things stand, they didn't have to, because there is no real

accountability and now their weak explanations have been co-opted into

arguments made by activists, rival media organizations, and even

journalists who were insisting that the information is harmful and must

be stricken from the record.

  Mr. SCHUMER. Would the Senator yield? I have brought an announcement

to the floor that will take a brief minute. I don't mean to interrupt.

  Mrs. BLACKBURN. I would be happy to yield to the Democratic leader.

hank you very much, Mr. President. I have to tell

you, listening to the Democratic leader there, this is one of the

things that social media has taken off on.

  They lost. They lost the 2016 Presidential election, and they have

never accepted the results. Never. It doesn't fit their narrative. So

what do they do? Look at this. Let's just not even work. Let's just

adjourn. Let's not do our constitutional duty.

  I tell you what, you can't make this stuff up. You really can't.

Cognitive dissonance of this moment in history has overwhelmed the


  It is important to make it abundantly clear that the outrage--the

absolute outrage from the American people over this incident with

social media has everything to do with their very fluid and subjective

standards that these companies use to control the flow of information,

and over the last few years, they have gotten worse about it. And you

know what? They do it until we slap their hands and then pull them back

in, and we say: You can't do this.

  Now, in the case that we are discussing that happened last week, it

looks suspiciously like they applied a brandnew set of standards

because someone got spooked at the prospect of losing momentum on a

political narrative.

  They are all working together on this. So let's go home; let's not

work; let's not do our job; let's bury a story on social media. Why?

Their gal didn't win in 2016, and Donald Trump did because the American

people said: We are with him, not her.

  Now, here in Washington we can argue all over election-year politics,

but in Tennessee, the people are seeing this for what it is, and they

are not talking about politics. They think this is pretty terrifying.

They are seeing a news platform censor the news, and they are seeing

extremely powerful people cheer it on. To them and to me, that is


  They are looking to us to get into one of those policy debates my

colleagues across the aisle were so eager to jump into just last week

during Judge Barrett's confirmation hearing.

  Fortunately, for them, we have got a head start on that discussion.

Big Tech has spent the last several years building up a body of

evidence against its own intentions, and if we don't address their

growing influence, we will lose our ability to create responsive


  I have already come to the floor several times to speak on various

ways we are doing this--through legislation, antitrust investigations,

and some good old-fashioned committee hearings. Congress doing its job,

precisely why we ought not to adjourn, precisely why we should stay

here and do our work.

  On October 28, the Commerce Committee will host a few familiar faces

for a hearing where we will analyze the effect that the liability

shield found in section 230 of the Communications Decency Act has on

Big Tech's behavior. Over the course of the hearing, we will speak with

Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Sundar Pichai

of Google about their approach to using the section 230 shield.

  We will also examine various legislative proposals to modernize

section 230, including one of my own that would resolve some

ambiguities regarding what sorts of content moderation policies are

shielded from liability and which ones aren't protected. We are going

to talk about the unintended consequences that stem from these

policies. We are going to talk about their platforms' interaction with

activists and with the media.

  I think we will probably get around to talking about it, whether they

like it or not, because we have the bipartisan and unanimously

authorized subpoenas in hand to do it, and those subpoenas are good

through the end of this Congress.

  Hopefully, by going straight to the top, we will gain a better

understanding of why these companies can't seem to regulate themselves,

why they can't seem to stop themselves from having a complete meltdown

every single time we turn up the heat and talk about these issues of

privacy, talk about censorship, talk about prioritization, talk about

preferencing, talk about holding them accountable for the spectrum they

use to put out their message and the activity that they are taking now

to censor the free speech of the American public.

  I yield the floor.