On Monday, Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) wrote a letter to Microsoft's president Brad Smith, questioning the company's censorship of conservatives, as well as the technology giant's avoidance of attention from House Democrats in the recent antitrust scrutiny facing others in the Big Tech industry.
"Big Tech, including Microsoft, Inc., is out to get conservatives," wrote Jordan. "Despite Microsoft's size and market dominance, House Democrats curiously did not significantly examine Microsoft's conduct during their investigation of competition in digital markets. Democrats also seem to have excluded Microsoft from scrutiny in their large package of bills to radically rewrite American antitrust law. We write to request more information about these matters."
Jordan stated that over the last 30 years, Microsoft acquired more than 200 companies, bringing the company's market value to nearly $2 million, only second to Apple in the United States.
"Microsoft has a commanding position in various markets. Among the office suite market, for instance, Microsoft has captured an estimated 87.5 percent of the market. As Democrats have excluded Microsoft from antitrust scrutiny, commentators have noted how Microsoft has taken advantage of the circumstances to pursue an aggressive acquisition strategy," wrote Jordan.
Jordan also questioned the company's tendency to censor on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, as well as censor conservative content on LinkedIn, which Microsoft acquired in 2016.
"Microsoft has also taken increasingly aggressive editorial control over content on its platforms. On behalf of the Chinese Communist Party, Microsoft has censored Bing search engine results of Tank Man on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests—including results for users in the United States—and has muzzled the voices of China critics on LinkedIn," said Jordan.
According to Jordan, LinkedIn had censored posts on its platform relating to Hunter Biden, COVID-19 and its origins, as well as "a post by an opinion editor at the Washington Times about Democrats' abuse of executive orders."
"Additionally, Microsoft is exerting editorial control over user-generated content in its word processing program, Microsoft Word," wrote Jordan.
"For example, Microsoft Word's 'Ideas in Word' tool urges users to avoid language that Microsoft dislikes and instead to adopt language Microsoft considers to be appropriate and 'gender neutral,'" he continued. "Not only is this censorship Orwellian, but given Microsoft Word's vague terms of service—which prohibit any 'hate speech' or 'offensive language' as defined by Microsoft—this censorship creates the potential for Microsoft to prevent users from generating certain content on Microsoft Word altogether."
Jordan questioned how a tech company of this size avoided "significant attention from House Democrats."
"The Democrats' investigation excluded Microsoft from significant oversight and the Democrats' recently introduced bills include a definition of a 'covered platform' that could be read to exclude Microsoft. In fact, Rep. David Cicilline, the lead Democrat drafter of these bills, told Bloomberg that 'it would be up to the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to make that determination,'" wrote Jordan.
As a result, Jordan requested information from Microsoft regarding whether it would "consider itself to be a 'covered platform' as defined in the antitrust legislation introduced by House Democrats," whether the company would stop "exerting editorial control" if found to be under the antitrust legislation introduced, and for explanations regarding its basis for censorship and content moderation on LinkedIn.