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Arizona lawmakers create committee to probe social media censorship at request of politicians

Panel plans to look into how companies and the government interact with platforms and the content users post.

Published: August 13, 2023 11:29pm

(The Center Square) -

Republicans in the Arizona State House created a new committee to look into "issues surrounding censorship by government officials" and other technology-related issues.

The interim House Ad Hoc Committee on Oversight, Accountability, and Big Tech plans to look into how companies and the government interact with platforms and the content released by users, as well as the ever-increasing presence of artificial intelligence.

"Fighting for the First Amendment is an American's highest calling. With this new committee, I am excited to have the opportunity to do so on behalf of the people of Arizona," Rep. Alexander Kolodin, who will chair the committee, said in a statement Thursday.

Rep. Neal Carter, R-San Tan Valley, will also serve as a member of the committee, but a Democrat has not been announced.

The committee will have its initial meeting on Sept. 5 at the capitol, and a news release states that it will feature comments from "leading experts" regarding legislation relating to free speech.

News of the committee's formation comes as Arizona Capitol Oversight released emails from when Gov. Katie Hobbs was Secretary of State, particularly one's of her and her staff requesting that information related to elections, as well as criticism of an old tweet from Hobbs' personal account, be restricted.

"The Committee will also explore the proper role of state officials and conduct relevant investigations to ensure that executive officers are fulfilling their constitutional duties," a House news release states.

Hobbs informed Twitter Support in the days following the 2020 election about a 2017 post in which she said Trump is "pandering to his neo-nazi base," which became the center of attention among critics, including those who perpetuated false claims that the election was rigged against the former president, The Center Square reported Thursday.

"I am not sure I can provide the information you are asking for because I reported and then blocked multiple users at the same time," she said in the email. "The alt-right got a hold of a 3-year-old tweet on my account and have been sending harassing, abusive, and threatening tweets and direct messages for the last 2 days."

The Center Square reached out to the governor's office on Thursday and Friday, but they did not respond to the requests for comment.

Federal interaction with social media companies had its day in court Thursday, when a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a free speech case involving the federal government and social media censorship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Justice sought to reverse a lower court ruling banning the Biden administration and several federal agencies from contact with social media companies.

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