House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy raised the possibility Saturday of slapping Google with a subpoena if the tech giant refuses to send a chief officer to testify before Congress on censorship of conservative views.
Both Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg have agreed to testify Wednesday on Capitol Hill, but Alphabet, the parent company of Google, so far has balked at producing a top executive, offering instead a senior vice president, whom lawmakers rejected.
“They haven’t come forth, but I think they need to come forth,” Mr. McCarthy said on Fox News’ “Justice with Judge Jeanine.”
Asked how he would make that happen, the California Republican replied, “Well, remember the power of the subpoena.”
“Our committees have the power to subpoena people,” said Mr. McCarthy. “We don’t want to have to do that, that’s why I think it’s better if you believe in having transparency and accountability, and you believe in doing no evil, there’s no reason why you would hold back and not come forth.”
Mr. Dorsey and Ms. Sandberg are slated to testify before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence for a 9:30 a.m. Wednesday hearing titled, “Foreign Influence Operations’ Use of Social Media Platforms.”
After that, Mr. Dorsey is scheduled to head to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing on “Twitter: Transparency and Accountability.”
Mr. McCarthy said social media has become the “town square,” with 67 percent of U.S. adults obtaining their news in part from the internet. But he accused tech companies of stifling Republican and conservative views and figures.
He pointed to examples such as Facebook last month removing PragerU videos — Facebook later unblocked them, calling it a mistake — and Google including “Nazism” as an ideology of the California Republican Party a week before the June 5 primary.
Google, whose motto is “don’t be evil,” later removed the reference, attributing it to Wikipedia “vandalism.”
“They’re upset that the president actually won the election,” said Mr. McCarthy. “This is the difference. I think you have to have transparency and accountability.”
“I’m all for somebody on there [social media] criticizing me, they have a right to do that, but the idea that we have a conservative idea that you knock it down, or you can’t search for it, that is wrong,” he said.
Mr. McCarthy also praised Mr. Dorsey for agreeing to appear: “If you believe your algorithms, which are written by humans, aren’t causing problems, show us.”
This isn’t the first showdown between Congress and Google. In 2011, the Senate Judiciary Committee threatened to use the subpoena power after the tech giant denied a request to send a top executive to testify before a subcommittee.
Ultimately, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt agreed to testify at the anti-trust hearing.