Supreme Court case could decide FB, Twitter power to regulate speech

While the justices tend to describe themselves as being apolitical, the court of Chief Justice John Roberts has shown a distinct preference for speech cases which concern conservative ideology, according to an empirical analysis conducted by researchers affiliated with Washington University in St. Louis as well as the University of Michigan.

The analysis found which the justices on the court appointed by Republican presidents sided with conservative speech nearly 70 percent of the time.

“More than any various other modern Court, the Roberts Court has trained its sights on speech promoting conservative values,” the authors found.

Polls show which both Democrats as well as Republicans believe which social media companies censor their users, however, the issue swings heavily conservative. Eighty-a few percent of Republicans believe which social media companies censor speech the companies find objectionable, compared with 62 percent of Democrats, according to a June survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The survey also found which 4 in 10 Americans believe which the companies favor liberal speech, versus just 1 in 10 who believes the companies favor conservative speech.

In August, President Donald Trump blasted Google for allegedly suppressing conservative speech. In a post on Twitter, Trump wrote which “they are controlling what we can & cannot see. This kind of will be a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the conservative chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, in July accused Twitter of censorship as well as threatened legal action against the company.

Perhaps most dramatically, Facebook, YouTube, Apple as well as the music platform Spotify removed content via right-wing conspiracy theorist as well as provocateur Alex Jones in August, accusing the talk show host of violating their terms of service. Indeed, MNN cited Jones’s removal in a legal brief, saying the idea was an example of the heightened attention to the issue of First Amendment rights online.

The major social media companies, which either did not respond or declined to comment to CNBC, have said they do not censor speech based on political ideology.

In August, as the uproar via conservatives reached a fever pitch, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called into the radio show hosted by conservative commentator Sean Hannity.

“We do not shadow ban according to political ideology or viewpoint or content. Period,” Dorsey said at the time.

For its part, Google released a statement saying which its search feature “will be not used to set a political agenda as well as we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology.”

During an April hearing before the Senate’s Commerce as well as Judiciary Committees, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, about whether Facebook considered itself a “neutral public forum.”

“There are a great many Americans who I think are deeply concerned which which Facebook as well as various other tech companies are engaged in a pervasive pattern of bias as well as political censorship,” Cruz said.

In response, Zuckerberg said which Facebook will be a “platform for all ideas.”

— CNBC’s
Sara Salinas
contributed to This kind of report.

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