The Gravity Of Josh Hawley’s Culture War Against Big Tech By Emily Jashinsky for The Federalist
As both parties grapple with surging populism, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has identified Big Tech as a worthy battleground. [GNN Note – with good reason. Conservatives, which make up the populist surge, are up their eyebrows with these tech tyrants.]
Facebook has become a kitchen table issue, and Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., knows it. His aggressive approach to the Silicon Valley giant, and the tech industry more broadly, is both nuanced and culturally aware—qualities the upper chamber has lacked.
While some conservatives may bristle at Hawley’s ostensible appetite for regulation, the senator is consciously seeking to blaze a new path. Yes, it’s part of the Trump-era culture war, and could certainly come to involve objectionable policy proposals, but it’s also a fight in which partisan battle lines have yet to be clearly drawn. That’s in no small part why his efforts warrant attention.
Take, for instance, this pointed six-page letterHawley sent Mark Zuckerberg on Monday. Not only did Hawley accuse the CEO of working “to capture and subvert the privacy revolution that threatens your business model and claim an empty public relations victory,” but he supplemented that charge with 15 detailed questions about changes to the platform.
“Will [Facebook] commit to establishing a firewall between data related to user messaging, including metadata related to links shared through the platform, and the rest of its data infrastructure?” Hawley asked, adding, “If not, will Facebook cooperate with inquiries by Congress and the FTC regarding whether its public representations about this messaging platform are misinforming consumers?”
The senator further requested information on what metadata Facebook will keep from messaging exchanges, how it will be used, how long it will be kept, and whether it will be used with other profile data to “enhance ad targeting.” Hawley pressed Zuckerberg on the privacy of financial information shared through Facebook’s online payment mechanisms, and plans for encryption in updated group spaces as well.
Hawley even took an informed stand for the news media, noting how the “pivot-to-video” came “at the expense of “shoe-leather reporting,” and inquiring whether Facebook had taken steps to prepare dependent publishers for recent changes: