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Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify about allegations of anti-conservative bias

The hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee will also focus on how the social networks handled the 2020 US elections.

Facebook and Twitter are facing accusations of anti-conservative bias.
Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey are scheduled to testify before a Senate panel about allegations of anti-conservative bias, after the social networks limited the reach of two New York Post articles about the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said Friday in a statement that the two executives will appear voluntarily before the committee on Nov. 17. The hearing will focus on how their platforms handled the New York Post articles and the 2020 US election.

The move comes after the committee voted Thursday to authorize subpoenas that would have required Zuckerberg and Dorsey to testify. Twelve Republicans voted to authorize its chairman to issue subpoenas to Zuckerberg and Dorsey. Ten Democrats on the committee were not present at the meeting in protest of a separate committee vote to advance the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the full Senate. 

Republicans have long complained that social networks are suppressing conservative speech, and the companies repeatedly deny those claims. Those complaints, though, increased after the social networks limited the reach of two New York Post stories. One article alleged that Biden's son Hunter introduced the former vice president to a Ukrainian executive. The other alleged Hunter Biden pursued deals involving a Chinese company. The accuracy of the reporting has been challenged including by Biden's campaign. 

Twitter blocked links to the articles because they violated the company's rules against posting hacked materials and private information. The articles cited alleged emails that came from Hunter Biden's purported laptop. Twitter then stopped blocking the links after it changed its policy about hacked materials. The company said the information was no longer considered private because it's been widely shared in the press and on other platforms.

Facebook said it was limiting the reach of a New York Post article as it was being fact-checked. The company hasn't provided any more information about the decision.

Dorsey, Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are already scheduled to testify before the US Senate Commerce Committee on Oct. 28 about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from lawsuits for content their users post.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment.