House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan has canceled the panel's planned vote to recommend holding Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook's parent company, in contempt of Congress for failing to provide documents for an ongoing investigation. Jordan tweeted that the decision to put contempt on hold is based on Facebook's newfound commitment to fully cooperate with the committee's probe, but made clear that contempt is still an option if Facebook does not cooperate fully.
The Ohio Republican had previously issued a subpoena to Zuckerberg and other tech CEOs in February, seeking documents related to what he called the federal government's "reported collusion with Big Tech to suppress free speech." Jordan and other Republicans have consistently accused tech companies, including Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc., of imposing limits on conservative views, particularly regarding COVID-19. These allegations have been refuted by the tech companies.
If the House Judiciary Committee were to recommend holding Zuckerberg in contempt of Congress, the final step would be for the entire GOP-controlled House of Representatives to vote on the matter. Ultimately, the decision to prosecute Zuckerberg would rest with President Joe Biden's Justice Department, as outlined in a Congressional Research Service report.
Meta Complies with Committee's Requests for Information
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for Meta confirmed that the company has diligently fulfilled the committee's extensive information requests. To date, Meta has provided over 50,000 pages of internal and external documents since February, along with facilitating interviews with both current and former employees.
"The Facebook Files, Part 1"
Jordan, an Ohio Republican, took to Twitter on Thursday to announce that Meta had recently submitted several documents to the committee. He even shared some of the materials in a Twitter thread, labeling them as "The Facebook Files, Part 1." Jordan asserted that Meta had only released these internal documents after the committee threatened to hold Mark Zuckerberg in contempt. According to Jordan, the documents expose the direct influence of government pressure on Facebook's censorship practices.
Biden Administration's Stance on Social Media Responsibility
During a press briefing on Thursday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized that the Biden administration prioritizes responsible actions to safeguard public health, safety, and security. Given the challenges posed by a deadly pandemic and foreign attacks on elections, the administration believes that social media companies bear a critical responsibility.
Legal Wrangling and Social Media Communications
Jean-Pierre acknowledged the ongoing legal disputes surrounding communications between executive branch officials and social media companies. Accordingly, she directed questions regarding this matter to the Justice Department.
Positive Market Reaction for Meta
Following better-than-expected earnings reported late Wednesday, Meta's stock experienced a significant surge in trading on Thursday. Over the past year, Meta's shares have witnessed an impressive 85% increase, while the wider S&P 500 index has risen by 13%.