US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) on Monday filed a criminal referral against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly making false statements to Congress during two joint hearings in April 2018, Newsweek reports.
Gaetz said Zuckerberg "repeatedly and categorically denied" Facebook engaged in bias against conservatives or censored content supportive of President Donald Trump. However, a Project Veritas investigation revealed the "overwhelming majority" of content Facebook's artificial intelligence filtered was in support of Trump and other Republican people and ideals.
Gaetz sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking the Department of Justice to investigate Zuckerberg. The statements in question were made during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing and again at a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, according to Newsweek.
"As a member of this body, I question Mr. Zuckerberg's veracity, and challenge his willingness to cooperate with our oversight authority, diverting congressional resources during time-sensitive investigations, and materially impeding our work," Gaetz said in the letter. "Such misrepresentations are not only unfair, they are potentially illegal and fraudulent."
Newsweek reached out to Facebook for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Zuckerberg told senators at the April 10 hearing that he understood concerns legislators had about conservative censorship because Silicon Valley is an "extremely left-leaning place." He said he shared that concern and it's something he tries to root out in the company.
The next day, he responded to a question from Representative Steve Scalise by saying there was "absolutely no directive" to have a bias in "anything that we do."
"To the contrary, our goal is to be a platform for all ideas," Zuckerberg said.
Project Veritas' undercover investigation quoted a Facebook content moderator said she would delete every Republican item that showed up on her queue. She added that she doesn't remove anti-Trump content, even if it violates the policy.
"If someone is wearing a MAGA hat, I am going to delete them for terrorism," another moderator said. "I think we are all doing that."
Gaetz wrote in the letter to Barr that the findings of the Project Veritas investigation were in "direct contrast" with Zuckerberg's testimony that Facebook was a "politically-neutral platform."