Sen. Ted Cruz says social media giants in Silicon Valley have created an “Orwellian world” where citing former President Jimmy Carter on election integrity issues might get a man branded a “right-wing nut job.”
The Texas Republican urged colleagues on Thursday to consider legislation that would rein in companies like YouTube, powerful tech billionaires that support them, and allies who “feel zero accountability to any elected official.”
Mr. Cruz blasted YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s new rules for political content, which creates a rhetorical minefield for anyone who tries to discuss allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“When Jimmy Carter and James Baker formed a bipartisan commission to study voter fraud, they concluded it was a significant and serious problem that needed to be confronted,” Mr. Cruz said. “And, last I checked, Democratic President Jimmy Carter is not some crazed right-wing nut job. And yet YouTube, apparently, if you sat online and read the Carter-Baker Commission out loud, YouTube just might well block you because in this Orwellian world you are not allowed to speak anything they happen to disagree with. If they don’t like people alleging voter fraud, if they don’t like people putting forth videos that they say constitute voter fraud, if they don’t like public debate, then they should stop having monopoly power over the public forum and the public square.”
Mr. Cruz then shared an anecdote about a time he met with Ms. Wojcicki in his office. The two talked about left-wing efforts to deplatform popular comedian Steven Crowder when the CEO admitted that Mr. Crowder didn’t run afoul of any terms of service.
“The YouTube CEO sat in my office and she admitted Steven Crowder didn’t violate any YouTube policies whatsoever,” he said. “He was entirely consistent with their terms of service. But they nonetheless [temporarily] de-monetized them anyway, simply shut off his ability to earn any revenue. By the way, this is how the man earns his living. Demonetize. I ask everyone here to think how they would feel if some massive corporation demonetized you, just zeroed out your bank account. That is an incredible power. And, you know, she said ‘well, gosh, you should be really grateful because we didn’t pull him down.’ She said, ‘some on the left were really urging us to block his content altogether just to silence him. We didn’t do that. You should be really happy with us.’”
The senator then said he discussed his preference for all voices to be heard while left-wing activists want content they disagree with prohibited from public view.
“It is only one side that is demanding of big tech that they censor the views they disagree with,” Mr. Cruz continued. “These are the most powerful companies on the face of the earth and they feel zero accountability to any elected official. For all of us who care about free speech that should worry us greatly. YouTube’s latest policy is ridiculous. … Simply exercising monopoly power to say ‘the views that I don’t like shall disappear and have never exist’ that should scare everyone.”
YouTube’s new rules will block content that “misleads” an audience regarding “widespread fraud or errors” in the 2020 election.
Similarly, moderators and its algorithms will look for sufficient levels of “education, documentary, scientific or artistic context.”