Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has found himself in the unlikely position of defending Twitter's decision to suspend Donald Trump's Jr's account after he posted "harmful" information about countering the coronavirus.
In an exchange that suggested not every member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust was entirely up to speed on the difference between various social media platforms, Mr Zuckerberg was pressed about a repeated claim of conservatives that social media discriminates against them.
Mr Zuckerberg was asked by the committee’s ranking Republican, congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, about the temporary restriction of Mr Trump Jr Twitter account, after he posted a video featuring a controversial doctor, Stella Immanuel, making false claims about coronavirus cures and stating that people “don't need masks”.
Where the tweet was posted now reads: “This Tweet is no longer available because it violated the Twitter Rules.”
Mr Sensenbrenner said he would not personally take hydroxychloroquine to counter the coronavirus - a drug that most medical experts say could be harmful but which the president and Ms Immanuel continue to promote - but asked whether such a decision ought to left to a person and their physician.
“There still is a debate as to whether it is effective either a treating or preventing Covid-19,” said Mr Sensenbrenner.
Mr Zuckerberg responded: “Well, first, to be clear, I think what you might be referring to happened on Twitter so it's hard for me to speak to that, but I can talk to our policies about this.”
Mr Zuckerberg went on to say that Facebook did “prohibit content that will lead to imminent risk of harm” and “stating there’s a proven cure for Covid when there is in fact not, might encourage someone to go take something that could have some adverse effects so we do take that down”.
He added: “We do not prohibit discussion around trials of drugs.”
Earlier, Republican Jim Jordan had laid into the social media firms, claiming that big tech is “out to get conservatives”.
On Twitter, Donald Trump tweeted: “If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself with Executive Orders. In Washington, it has been ALL TALK and NO ACTION for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it.”
After Twitter suspended temporarily Mr Trump Jr’s account, his spokesperson, Andy Surabian, said in a statement the move was “further proof that Big Tech is intent on killing free expression online”.
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