Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is a leading Republican critic of Big Tech censorship and she chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Tech Task Force. She has also experienced the industry’s suppression personally.
Twitter objected to one of her pro-life political ads. Instagram also blocked advertising multiple times for a children’s book she co-wrote celebrating women’s suffrage. In 2017, when the congresswoman announced her Senate bid, she released a campaign ad highlighting her values and accomplishments. In it, Blackburn referenced her pro-life record saying, “I fought Planned Parenthood and we stopped the sale of baby body parts.” Twitter flagged the ad as “inflammatory” and “negative” and blocked her campaign from running the ad unless it removed the objectionable statement. Twitter later relented.
“I’m being censored for telling the truth,” Blackburn wrote in an email to supporters. “Twitter has shut down my announcement video advertising. Silicon Valley elites are trying to impose their values on us.”
As a member of the Senate, Blackburn has been involved in legislation to amend Section 230 and urged former Attorney General William Barr of the Department of Justice to scrutinize Google’s “anticompetitive practices.” “I also ask that your probe examine abuses in both the online advertising and online search markets, and to take enforcement action swiftly before further economic harm results,” Blackburn wrote to Barr.
She also urged the Federal Trade Commission to interview former Facebook employees as it investigates the company.
- Blackburn and two other Republicans introduced legislation in September 2020 to alter vague language in Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Fast Company reported: “The bill, called the Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act, would narrow the kind of user content tech companies can remove from their platforms, and restrict their ability to make ‘editorial’ choices about what content to host and where it appears.”
- Instagram twice blocked Blackburn’s daughter from advertising the apolitical, children’s book about women’s suffrage she and her mother wrote together.
- Speaking of social media platforms, Blackburn has said: "They suggestively manipulate their algorithms ... You look at what's happening on YouTube, and it's the wild west. You can put up anything, say anything, and it's there, except when it comes to conservatives. Conservative filmmakers, conservative entertainers, people in Christian music have had their movie trailers, their videos, their songs removed from some of these platforms."
- Blackburn told Bloomberg the U.S. needs a basic federal data privacy standard because “the internet does not know where the state line begins and ends.” In the same interview, she said she was “pleased” TikTok raised the minimum age for in-app purchases after she criticized it for letting anyone over 13 make purchases.
- She testified before the House Judiciary Committee in April 2018 that tech companies are censoring conservatives and recounted her own censorship experiences.