The Heritage Foundation has taken a principled stand against Big Tech and is rejecting six-figure donations from both Google and Facebook over their censorship of conservative viewpoints.
The organization is one of the most respected and oldest conservative think tanks in the nation.
Heritage President Kay Cole James wrote letters that were addressed to Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stating that the conservative nonprofit would be turning down $350,000 in contributions from the two companies. The move was first reported by Axios who got a hold of the letters.
“We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms,” James told Pichai.
(Video Credit: Reuters)
Axios revealed that the foundation rejected a hefty $225,000 donation from Google. They also stated that they would refund a $150,000 donation from Facebook.
“Most recently, you added a prominent label to our election integrity video that was clearly meant to cast doubt on the credibility of our well-sourced claims about the risks of voting by mail,” she claimed. “You’ve in effect handed discriminatory authority to a group that is biased against our views on election fraud.”
The letter sent to Zuckerberg referred to Facebook suppressing the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story shortly before the 2020 presidential election.
This is a significant move for The Heritage Foundation. In the past, they have accepted large donations from Big Tech companies such as Google and Facebook without a second thought. According to Axios, Google alone has given $1.55 million to the organization. Facebook has dished out $275.000.
James emphasized in her letters that the organization is helping Congress to revise antitrust laws, which currently protect the Big Tech companies from liability for content published on their social media platforms.
“Heritage is in the midst of reviewing these proposals, and the last thing we need is for anyone to think that our conclusions have in any way been influenced by a relatively small donation from your company,” she said.
Axios took notice of the timing of Heritage’s letters and their related statement. They were sent out just prior to a House hearing on Section 230 protections for Big Tech and social media platforms.
The CEOs of Google, Facebook, and Twitter all testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday. They were grilled on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and whether Big Tech should be regulated.
Both sides of the political aisle want to amend Section 230 but for entirely different reasons. Republicans want to ensure free speech. Democrats want to regulate speech on social media platforms.
Republicans contend that conservatives have been moderated, censored, removed, and labeled on the platforms.
Democrats want what they term as fake news and misinformation removed and more heavily censored on the platforms. They contend that social media was used as a vehicle to carry out the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill.
Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado, Matt Gaetz, and Greg Steube of Florida have also stated that they will no longer accept donations from Big Tech companies.
“As the lead Republican on the antitrust subcommittee working to hold Big Tech accountable for their anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior, I cannot continue to accept campaign donations from Facebook, Google, or Amazon,” Buck announced Wednesday. The Colorado representative is the ranking member of the House antitrust panel.
Sen. @HawleyMO and I are leading the fight in taking on Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.
I encourage my Republican colleagues to join me in pledging not to take money from Big Tech. pic.twitter.com/PwgmPOwKTu
— Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) March 26, 2021
— Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) March 25, 2021