The social media giants have long held that they are neutral when they moderate third party content on their platforms and that there is no evidence of systemic bias. On Facebook, for example, some of its highest trafficked content come from conservative voices.
But the Senate Judiciary Committee’s action comes after Twitter and Facebook took steps to restrict access to a New York Post story on Hunter Biden. The platforms, under pressure to curb disinformation so close to the election, had cautioned that the claims made in the story were unverified.
All 12 Republicans voted yes. No Democrats were present, as they boycotted an earlier vote on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
A Facebook spokesperson said that they had no comment. A spokesperson for Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The subpoenas appear to be a move to try to highlight the New York Post story in advance of Election Day.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg already have testified before congressional committees and have faced questions from Republican lawmakers over alleged conservative bias. And they also are scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee next week along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
No time has been given for when a Senate Judiciary hearing would be held.
Facebook initially said that the New York Post article would go through a fact-check review, and restrictions would be placed on its distribution. Twitter, though, blocked users from sharing the story, citing its hacked materials policy. It later backed away from the policy.
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