Days before Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear at a high-profile antitrust hearing, a member of Congress has accused the Facebook CEO of lying to Congress, and asking the Department of Justice to investigate.
Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz said Monday that he sent a criminal referral to Attorney General Bill Barr, asking for an investigation into Zuckerberg for “making materially false statements to Congress while under oath” a full two years after the fact.
Citing Zuckerberg’s 2018 testimony, Gaetz says that Zuckerberg lied to Congress when he described Facebook as “politically neutral.” He said that a recent report from Project Veritas, the right-wing activist group known for dubious “undercover” investigations, proves the social network unfairly censors conservatives. Project Veritas has a history of hidden camera “stings” that use deceptively-edited video to fuel outrage against YouTube executives, CNN, George Soros and other liberal boogeyman. (Notably, Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in 2010 after being arrested for trying to tamper with a Senator’s phone.)
Facebook didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but claims that the social network is biased against conservatives is nothing new. Republican officials have long accused Facebook (and other social media companies) of discriminating against their viewpoints.
Gaetz makes no mention of the fact that Zuckerberg and Facebook have repeatedly declined to fact check or otherwise apply their rules to President Trump, and that an official review into conservatives’ grievances has so far turned up little evidence. Posts from conservative media also consistently rank among the most widely-shared stories on the platform, and multiple reports suggest Facebook has in fact shut down proposed changes that may disproportionately affect conservatives.
The letter comes days before a high-profile antitrust hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, when Zuckerberg will appear, along with his counterparts from Apple, Google and Amazon. That Gaetz, a member of the committee, would send his letter just days before the hearing suggests he plans to grill Zuckerberg on more than just Facebook’s market dominance.