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FCC chair fires warning shot at social media giants: Twitter ‘part of problem’ for attacking right

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The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission blasted social media giants for opposing his agency’s plan to repeal existing net neutrality rules.

Ajit Pai spared no words in his sharp criticism of Silicon Valley tech giants, taking direct aim at Twitter for being “part of the problem.”

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“Now look: I love Twitter,” Pai said during an event in Washington, D.C. Tuesday hosted by conservative think tank,  R Street Institute, The Washington Post reported.

“But let’s not kid ourselves,” he continued. “When it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate.”

The FCC’s proposed plan to roll back the net neutrality protections put in place under former President Barack Obama has been met with staunch opposition from Google and Facebook as well as Twitter, claiming the plan would interfere with the free flow of information on the internet.

Internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, however, have been behind the FCC push, seeing it as a way to return to a free market environment.

“Unfortunately, Twitter is not an outlier,” the Republican FCC chairman said Tuesday. “Indeed, despite all the talk, and all the fear, that broadband providers could decide what internet content consumers can see, recent experience shows that so-called edge providers are in fact deciding what content they see. These providers routinely block or discriminate against content they don’t like.”

Pai accused Twitter of using a “double-standard” to regulate its own content, citing the social media company’s recent decision to suspend or de-verify accounts belonging to alleged white nationalists and far-right users, according to the Post.

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Pai pointed to an example by noting Twitter’s actions that prevented Republican Senate hopeful Marsha Blackburn  from promoting a tweet about abortion. The Republican congresswoman was prevented from being able to pay to advertise a campaign video that included remarks about abortion, but a public backlash forced Twitter to change its decision.

“This conduct is many things but it isn’t fighting for an open Internet,” Pai said.

The Obama-era regulations are expected to be repealed by the FCC at its Dec. 14 meeting.

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Frieda Powers

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