The Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest and most prominent conservative think tanks in Washington, made the decision to turn down donations from Big Tech moguls like Google and Facebook because of their recent censorship of conservatives.
Foundation president Kay C. James sent letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai explaining that the foundation could “not in good conscience accept money” from companies that actively seek to silence conservative voices.
But, these weren’t just any donations.
Heritage turned down a whopping $225,000 donation from Google and even returned a $150,000 donation from Facebook in October 2020. Notably, however, these pale in comparison to the much larger donations previously made: $1.55 million from Google and $275,000 from Facebook.
James reiterated to the Big Tech giants that her organization is assisting Congress to revise antitrust laws, which protect companies from liability for content published on their platforms, according to the Epoch Times.
“Heritage is in the midst of reviewing these proposals, and the last thing we need is for anyone to think that our conclusions have in any way been influenced by a relatively small donation from your company.”
In her letter to Zuckerberg, James cited some recent incidents of censorship.
“The Heritage Foundation has all too often fallen victim to Facebook’s double standard. Referrals to our Daily Signal news site, for example, have plunged from 600,000 sessions in July to a mere 105,000 so far in Oct.,” she wrote.
To Google’s CEO, she wrote that the company has too often censored the foundation’s videos.
“Most recently, you added a prominent label to our election integrity video that was clearly meant to cast doubt on the credibility of our well-sourced claims about the risks of voting by mail,” she said. “You’ve in effect handed discriminatory authority to a group that is biased against our views on election fraud.
Similarly, Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), who has been critical of Big Tech in recent months, decided to stop accepting donations from Big Tech companies as well.
“As the lead republican on the antitrust subcommittee working to hold Big Tech accountable for their anti-competitive and monopolistic behavior, I cannot continue to accept campaign donations from Facebook, Google or Amazon,” Buck said in a statement to Fox News.
He added that starting Thursday, he will “no longer accept any money from these companies.”
Sen. @HawleyMO and I are leading the fight in taking on Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon.
I encourage my Republican colleagues to join me in pledging not to take money from Big Tech. pic.twitter.com/PwgmPOwKTu
— Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) March 26, 2021
In a tweet, he commended the Heritage Foundation for taking action.
— Ken Buck (@BuckForColorado) March 25, 2021
In order to hold Big Tech companies accountable to the fullest extent, there needs to be a widespread movement of change not only on the federal level, but the state level as well.
State officials have already begun taking action, with many governors and attorneys general filing lawsuits against media platforms and changing policies.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a multi state lawsuit against Google, alleging antitrust violations and deceptive acts. While several states – including Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah – already signed on, five additional states recently joined his effort: Alaska, Florida, Montana, Nevada, and Puerto Rico.
Similarly, Florida is taking the bull by the horns, as lawmakers proposed legislation that would penalize social media companies if they de-platform candidates during an election with a fine of $100,000 a day.