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The real reason Republicans are forcing Mark Zuckerberg to turn over thousands of pages of Facebook documents


Analysis by Oliver Darcy, CNN

(CNN) — Jim Jordan is shaking down Mark Zuckerberg.

The hyper-partisan Ohio Republican, still on an unsuccessful years-long journey to dishonestly portray Silicon Valley as unfairly censoring American conservatives, is now wielding the power of the federal government in his quest to besmirch Meta.

Jordan, who sits atop the powerful House Judiciary Committee, has embarked on a fishing expedition at Facebook, demanding Zuckerberg turn over reams of internal documents that pertain to Meta’s content moderation decisions. Jordan will then selectively post portions of those very documents on Elon Musk’s rival platform, X, to advance a narrative that Facebook is a supposed anti-free speech social media network working in collusion with the Democrats and media elite to tilt the scales against the GOP.

In effect, Jordan is coercing Zuckerberg into turning over documents that will then be used to mendaciously smear the Meta chief’s company. And if Zuckerberg fails to comply, Jordan has threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress — an action that could carry with it serious legal consequences.

Jordan had been set to hold a contempt vote on Thursday, but backed off when Meta provided his committee some of the sought after documents. Meta, for its part, had previously said it had already turned over thousands of pages of documents and was cooperating with the committee.

“Based on Facebook’s newfound commitment to fully cooperate with the Committee’s investigation, the Committee has decided to hold contempt in abeyance. For now,” Jordan wrote on X. “To be clear, contempt is still on the table and WILL be used if Facebook fails to cooperate in FULL.”

The documents that Jordan ultimately obtained and posted on Thursday were far from surprising. They showed that the White House in 2021 had applied pressure on Meta to keep its platforms clean of Covid vaccine disinformation — something that was already well-known given that the White House had staked a public position on such measures during the pandemic. In fact, President Joe Biden even went as far as to accuse Facebook of “killing people” in his efforts to press the social media company to do more to tackle dangerous vaccine misinformation and conspiracy theories on its platforms.

Jordan, however, predictably hyped the documents in a much different light. Dubbing them the “Facebook Files” — a rip off of the Musk-orchestrated “Twitter Files,” which also failed to provide any smoking gun evidence proving government collusion in the Hunter Biden case — Jordan tweeted X’d in all-caps that he had “SMOKING-GUN” evidence proving Facebook “CENSORED AMERICANS BECAUSE OF BIDEN WHITE HOUSE PRESSURE.”

“These documents, AND OTHERS that were just produced to the Committee, prove that the Biden Admin abused its powers to coerce Facebook into censoring Americans, preventing free and open discourse on issues of critical public importance,” Jordan claimed, teasing the release of more documents.

Most news organizations gave Jordan’s “Facebook Files” entry little attention on Thursday. But, as you might expect, right-wing media outlets hyped the stunt. Fox News, for instance, featured a story on the documents’ release as the top story on its website and Jordan was welcomed on the network’s air to further promote his narrative without scrutiny. It was a helpful distraction on a day in which new charges against Donald Trump commanded the attention of the nation’s biggest newsrooms.

We are about to live through the Twitter Files era all over again — except, this time around, Facebook and Instagram will be on center stage. Notably, the documents are not being made available to the public because of an erratic billionaire owner who purchased a company and legally acquired the material. In this case, the awesome powers of the federal government are being weaponized to threaten Zuckerberg into handing the information over.

Ironically, Jordan does this all from the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — a committee ostensibly against wrongfully exploiting the powers of government for a political end.

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