WASHINGTON — Rep. Matt Gaetz has filed a criminal referral against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for lying to Congress while under oath, the Florida Republican announced this week.
In a statement, Gaetz alleged that Zuckerberg made materially false statements to Congress while under oath at two separate joint hearings in April 2018.
“Zuckerberg repeatedly and categorically denied his company engaged in bias against conservative speech, persons, policies, or politics and also denied that Facebook censored and suppressed content supportive of President Donald Trump and other conservatives,” the statement reads. Gaetz then went on to allege that James O’Keefe, along with investigative journalists at Project Veritas, uncovered evidence which proved contrary.
“Zuckerberg repeatedly and categorically denied his company engaged in bias against conservative speech, persons, policies, or politics and also denied that Facebook censored and suppressed content supportive of President Donald Trump and other conservatives,” Gaetz argued. “Project Veritas published the results of an undercover investigation featuring two whistleblowers who worked as Facebook’s ‘content moderators,’ revealing that the overwhelming majority of content filtered by Facebook’s AI program was content in support of President Donald Trump, Republican candidates for office, or conservatism in general.”
“This alone is already an indication of bias within the platform,” he added.
In the statement, Gaetz went on to say that he now “questions Zuckerberg’s veracity, as well as his willingness to cooperate with the House’s oversight authority,” and suggested that the Facebook CEO has been “diverting congressional resources during time-sensitive investigations, and materially impeding our work.”
“Such misrepresentations are not only unfair, they are potentially illegal and fraudulent,” said Gaetz.
In addition to referring Zuckerberg to the DOJ for an investigation into the alleged false statements made to Congress by Zuckerberg while under oath, Gaetz personally asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr on Monday to investigate Zuckerberg’s conduct.
“Facebook’s AI screening content is not politically neutral,” Gaetz wrote in a letter to Barr. “Neither are the moderators hired to review content flagged by the AI program. This stands in opposition to Mr. Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony and violates the ‘good faith’ provision of Section 230(c)(2)(A) of the Communications Decency Act.”
“Accordingly, I respectfully refer Mr. Zuckerberg to the Department for an investigation of potential violations of 18 U.S.C. §§1001, 1505, and 1621 for materially false statements made to Congress while testifying under oath.”
When asked about whether Facebook harbors anti-conservative bias while testifying before Congress in 2018, Zuckerberg said:
“First, I understand where that concern is coming from because Facebook and the tech industry are located in Silicon Valley, which is an extremely left-leaning place. And this is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about.”