Sen. Josh Hawley on Wednesday pressed Google to respond to allegations that it censored YouTube comments critical of China.
YouTube was reportedly automatically deleting certain comments that were critical of the Chinese Communist Party, and YouTube told the Verge that such action was the result of a technical error the company was working to fix.
Mr. Hawley, Missouri Republican, dismissed YouTube’s explanation that the alleged censorship was an error and instead called it part of a “long, disturbing pattern” of Google attempting to win favor in China.
“This kowtowing is unacceptable,” Mr. Hawley wrote to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. “Selling out American principles to curry favor with communist officials is no way to run an American business — regardless of who else is doing it.”
Mr. Hawley’s missive followed Rep. Jim Banks’ letter to Mr. Pichai demanding answers to similar questions about why Google’s platforms allegedly chose to censor content critical of China. The Indiana Republican wrote to Mr. Pichai on Monday requesting an explanation for why Google allegedly censored comments on American videos hosted in the U.S.
The lawmakers’ biting letters against Google come as President Trump has talked up the idea of increased regulation of internet and social media companies, particularly those he perceives as looking to stifle speech on their platforms.
Tensions between U.S. government officials and China have also reached new heights since the coronavirus outbreak, which spread from China. Mr. Trump has blocked trade with Chinese tech giant Huawei and floated the suggestion that Beijing should compensate the rest of the world for damages wrought by the coronavirus.