House Republicans want Facebook and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in front of Congress to provide more details after he admitted Facebook intentionally throttled stories in 2020 about a laptop belonging to Hunter Biden, the son of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Zuckerberg on Thursday gave an interview to podcaster Joe Rogan that the FBI told his company to be aware of alleged Russian disinformation ahead of the 2020 election.
“How do you handle things when there’s a big news item that’s controversial?" Rogan asked Zuckerberg, noting that "there was a lot of attention on Twitter during the election because of the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
Zuckerberg responded: “The background here is the FBI, I think, basically came to some folks on our team [and] were like, ‘Hey, just so you know, you should be on high alert. We thought that there was a lot of Russian propaganda in the 2016 election, we have it on notice that basically there’s about to be some kind of dump similar to that, so just be vigilant.’”
With just weeks before the 2020 election, the New York Post published reports about the overseas business dealings of Hunter and Joe Biden. Later, a former business associate of the Bidens, Tony Bobulinski, came forward and confirmed details in some of the emails sourced from the younger Biden's laptop.
Zuckerberg attempted to explain his company's rationale, saying that the firm's policies differ from those of Twitter, which, after the NY Post story was published, blocked the sharing of the article and locked the NY Post out of its account for about two weeks.
“What Twitter did [was] they said, ‘You can’t share this at all.’ We didn’t do that,” Zuckerberg told Rogan.
But Republicans now want Zuckerberg to testify and provide more details.
"This isn’t just insane, it’s election interference," Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) wrote on Twitter. "The Oversight Committee must immediately invite Mark Zuckerberg to testify—under oath—about the FBI’s attempts to circumvent the First Amendment. The American people deserve answers and accountability."
That sentiment was echoed by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), whose party is poised to retake the House during the 2022 midterms.
Later in the interview, Zuckerberg appeared to express regret over the censorship of the story, but offered a caveat that its censors "still let people share it."
"I mean, it sucks. Yeah," Zuckerberg said. "It turned out after the fact—the fact-checkers looked into it, and no one was able to say it was false. Right. So basically, it had this period where it was getting less distribution."