The very same liberals who criticize capitalism and view entire industries as bad allowed the liberal tech and social media companies to flourish because they viewed them positively. Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco was one of those liberals. She has been a great friend to Silicon Valley behemoths. After all, they were on the same side.
The companies took the same left-wing stances on LGBTQ rights, immigration, guns and abortion as Pelosi. Being such kindred spirits, the companies were extremely generous to her over the years.
Not only that, but Open Secrets listed Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet among her top 20 contributors in the 2019-2020 election cycle. NPR reported in 2019 that Microsoft and Alphabet (owner of Google and YouTube) both gave Pelosi “six-figure sums” during her congressional career, which began in 1987. During those years, Facebook donated more than $76,000 and Amazon more than $30,000.
She only recently started making overtures about regulating or stripping Big Tech of Section 230 immunity. In 2017 and 2018, the tech companies’ support for Trump’s tax cuts upset Pelosi. Within months, she told Vox’s Recode Decode podcast, an era of tech self-regulation “probably should be” over.
“I think we have to subject it all to scrutiny and cost-benefits and all that, but I do think that it’s a new era,” she added.
In 2019, Facebook chose not to take down a video of Pelosi that was slowed down, making her appear drunk. Although it eventually tagged the video as “false,” it did not remove it. She said Facebook’s inaction changed her mind about its culpability with regard to election meddling. The video or a similar one surfaced in 2020.
“When something like Facebook says, ‘I know this is false — it’s a lie — but we’re showing it anyway,’ well to me it says two things,” Pelosi said. “I was giving them the benefit of the doubt on Russia ... I thought it was unwittingly, but clearly they wittingly were accomplices and enablers of false information to go across Facebook.”
- Pelosi threatened to hold social media company executives accountable for COVID misinformation in June 2020.
- “Yes, we like Twitter to put up their fact check of the president, but it seems to be very selective,” Pelosi said in May 2020. She slammed Twitter for not doing enough to fact-check President Donald Trump calling it “outrageous.”
- Pelosi encouraged advertisers to “know your power” and pressure social media to censor “disinformation.”
- She criticized Trump’s executive order to weaken Section 230 protections. “The president’s executive order, far from addressing the problem, actually directs the federal government to dismantle platforms’ efforts to help users distinguish fact from fiction, truth from lies,” she complained.
- Pelosi took aim at Facebook in January 2020 saying: “[T]hey don't care about truth, they don't care about where this is all coming from, and they have said, even if they know it's not true, they will print it," said Pelosi. "I think they have been very abusive of the great opportunity that technology has given them." Reporters said she appeared to be criticizing the company’s political ads policy.
- Pelosi worked to remove the liability shield (Section 230) from the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. “There are concerns in the House about enshrining the increasingly controversial … liability shield in our trade agreements, particularly at a time when Congress is considering whether changes need to be made in U.S. law,” a Pelosi spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
- Pelosi supported the House Democrats’ antitrust probe of Facebook, Google and other tech companies in June 2019. Investigation leader Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-RI) told NPR she had been informed ahead of time and was very “supportive of it.”
- “[Section] 230 is a gift to them ... and I don’t think they are treating it with the respect that they should,” Pelosi told Recode Decode on April 12, 2019. “For the privilege of 230, there has to be a bigger sense of responsibility on it, and it is not out of the question that that could be removed.”
- Pelosi is a huge supporter of “net neutrality” legislation. In 2017, she introduced legislation with New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer to restore the regulations.
- “I think the tech community is a tremendous advantage to San Francisco, it always has been to the Bay area. And that job creation, innovation and all of that is good for the community as long as it doesn’t change the character of the community,” Pelosi told a Bloomberg reporter in 2015.
- Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was slated to speak at a Pelosi event in Napa Valley where she brought some of her biggest “supporters” and several vulnerable Democratic candidates together to schmooze in 2014.
- Bloomberg reported in 2010 that Pelosi was a big winner when it came to receiving Silicon Valley donations. The report cited her policy efforts including support for research and development tax credits, which made many venture capital and technology companies happy. The reporter said it appeared to be “a mutual admiration society” not a “quid pro quo” situation.
- In 2008, Google invited Pelosi to speak at one of its “Policy Talks at Google.” Before introducing her, Google’s Alan Davidson called her a “real champion of the tech community.” She thanked the company’s employees for empowering people and “strengthening democracy” through its work.