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The House Judiciary Committee will vote to impeach Zuckerberg in contempt

Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives in federal court in San Jose, California on December 20, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to cite Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been charged with contempt of Congress for failing to provide proper documents in connection with a previous subpoena as part of an investigation into Internet censorship.

Meta and Zuckerberg “deliberately refused to fully comply with a congressional subpoena” seeking documents about the company’s communications with the Biden administration and its content moderation decisions, the contempt committee report said. The committee called Met’s compliance with the subpoena “horribly inadequate.”

If the committee votes to hold Zuckerberg in contempt, the resolution will need to be passed in the House of Representatives. The criminal contempt case, the committee suggests, could be referred to the Justice Department, which could decide whether to pursue the case.

The original subpoena was part of an investigation Alphabet, Amazon, an apple and Microsoftwith the Met to “understand how and to what extent the executive branch coerced and colluded with companies and other intermediaries to censor speech,” Chief Justice Jim Jordan of Ohio wrote when he ordered the documents to be turned over in February.

Since then, Jordan has expanded the Meta investigation to include Twitter’s new competitor, Threads. Jordan wrote that he believed the content moderation documents about Threads were subject to a preliminary subpoena.

“Despite Meta’s direct response to the subpoena, Meta failed to produce nearly all relevant internal company documents,” the contempt report said. “To date, Meta has only prepared documents between Meta and external organizations and a small part of relevant internal documents. The committee is particularly in need of internal Meta documents that would shed light on how Meta understood, evaluated, and responded to executive branch requests or directives to censor content, as well as Meta’s decision-making process to censor viewpoints in today’s town square.”

Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement that Meta “acted in good faith” with the committee’s extensive requests.

“To date, we have delivered more than 53,000 pages of documents — both internal and external — and made nearly a dozen current and former employees available to discuss external and internal matters, including some scheduled this week,” Stone wrote. “Meta will continue to comply with the committee’s good faith requests as it has done so far.”

But the contempt report alleges that after the subpoena was issued on Feb. 15, “Meta produced communications between Meta and outside entities and less than 40 pages of internal documents. Despite clear instructions in the Committee’s subpoena and repeated requests by Committee staff, Meta has so far failed to produce nearly all of the requested internal communications related to executive branch interactions.”

“The committee engaged in extensive negotiations, offering significant compromises to try to reach an agreement,” the report continued, but Meta rejected those proposals and “on July 24 offered to produce a null and void internal document.”

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SEE: The dirty business of content moderation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube

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