Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio railed at the social media behemoths on Thursday over their censorship of stories involving Hunter Biden and theories expressed by several experts early on that they believe COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab.
In an interview Thursday evening with Fox News’s Sean Hannity, Rubio called for new limits on social media reach and power after he said they silenced conservative voices and controversial opinions following Facebook’s announcement last month that the company would no longer remove posts that claim COVID-19 was lab-produced in Wuhan.
Rubio, who is the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, talked about dangers to a free society being’ posed by “unelected, unaccountable anonymous people deciding what we are allowed to say to one another and what we are allowed to share.”
The Florida Republican went on to characterize the social media behemoths as “the new gatekeepers of the public square in American politics,” while criticizing them for throttling or outright censoring COVID-19 lab-leak stories as well as those exposing various aspects of Hunter Biden’s life and business dealings in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
(Video: Fox News)
“Five companies in America now have the power to basically wipe anybody out and silence them. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple – they all get together and decide: we are going to wipe somebody out,” Rubio said.
Former President Donald Trump was banned from all of the major social media sites following the Jan. 6 riot that Democrats claim was an “insurrection” which he inspired with his post-election claims of vote fraud. But Trump’s bans came after one of the tech giants, Twitter, had taken the unprecedented measure of ‘fact-checking’ his posts.
Other notable conservative figures have been banned as well, including one-time Trump senior political adviser Steve Bannon and attorney Sidney Powell, who has pushed unproven election conspiracy theories involving voting machines.
But Rubio noted that due to the pervasiveness of social media today, being banned was akin to being irreparably silenced.
“You are done. You can’t communicate to the outside world,” he told Hannity.
Rubio’s assessment echoed Trump’s views in an interview last month with One America News Network, arguing that his ban harmed his ability to fundraise for his election.
But in addition to silencing Americans, Rubio said that the social media companies had assumed the role of information gatekeepers, deciding what can and cannot be shared.
“They now have put themselves in a position of determining what news can be re-reported. Remember those articles about Hunter Biden? They quashed the New York Post story, they would not let it spread,” he told Hannity.
And, in fact, Twitter locked The Post’s account for weeks after the publication first broke damaging stories to Hunter Biden based on information discovered on a laptop computer hard drive he allegedly abandoned at a repair shop in Delaware.
He went on to note Facebook’s recent decision to stop blocking COVID-19 stories positing that the virus might have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
“They go back and remove a ban on stories about the origins of the COVID-19 virus because they have proven to be true,” said Rubio. “This is the danger here. You have unelected, unaccountable anonymous people deciding what we are allowed to say to one another and what we are allowed to share. That is a very dangerous moment.
“They have assumed basically governmental powers without being accountable to anyone,” Rubio added.
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