Hawley’s book canceled amid conservative purge
As social media and internet companies cracked down last week on conservative voices they considered extreme—including President Donald Trump—a major publisher canceled an upcoming book about Big Tech’s abuse of power.
Long before Amazon booted Parler from its servers or Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram banned Trump for life, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., planned to shed light on the monopolistic control and political partiality of tech giants. Simon & Schuster planned to release his book, The Tyranny of Big Tech, in June. But the publisher dropped the title after Hawley raised an objection to what he claimed were fraudulent votes on the same day pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol and disrupted Congress’ certification of the presidential election results.
“We take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom,” Simon & Schuster said.
Since his election in 2018, Hawley has accused Big Tech companies of violating consumer protection, privacy, and antitrust laws and moderating content with a bias against conservatives. At a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting in November, Hawley grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on whether Facebook, Google, and Twitter coordinated and shared efforts and information on content moderation and censorship. He quizzed Zuckerberg about Centra, a tool Facebook uses to track users not only on its platform but also across the internet.
Zuckerberg, calling Facebook’s actions “community integrity work,” was not able to provide information to the committee about Centra or about coordinated efforts to suppress user comments. After questioning by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., Zuckerberg acknowledged Facebook’s employee base was politically left-of-center.
Since Wednesday’s Capitol riots, Facebook and other internet giants have suspended the user accounts of Trump and his supporters en masse. Amazon even booted the conservative-friendly social media platform Parler from its servers, claiming it did not do enough to stop users whose posts sought to incite violence. Parler sued Amazon, saying the company violated antitrust rules and contractual obligations.
Hawley called Simon & Schuster’s censorship of his book “Orwellian” and a “direct assault on the First Amendment.” He said the publisher chose to paint as sedition his lawful objection to Pennsylvania’s election results. Congress debated the objection but voted not to uphold it.
The senator condemned Wednesday’s violence, and said in a statement to Forbes, “I will never apologize for giving voice to the millions of Missourians and Americans who have concerns about the integrity of our elections.” He also threatened to sue Simon & Schuster, saying, “This is the left looking to cancel everyone they don’t approve of. I will fight this cancel culture with everything I have.”