The Arizona Legislature Debates Regulation of Social Media Amid Election Manipulation Concerns

The Arizona Legislature Debates Regulation of Social Media Amid Election Manipulation Concerns


An Arizona legislative committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on Oversight, Accountability, and Big Tech, convened its first meeting to investigate the influence of government officials on social media companies and the influence of social media and tech companies on others. However, the majority of the four-hour meeting was spent discussing concerns about election manipulation rather than addressing the regulatory role the Arizona government should play in curbing the growing reach of technology and social media.

The committee heard testimony from two witnesses, including Robert Epstein, a Harvard-trained psychologist who has studied Google search results and alleges bias in favor of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. Epstein suggested that Google’s algorithm could have influenced millions of votes, describing it as “the biggest, most powerful mind control machine that’s ever been invented.” However, independent fact-checkers have disputed his findings.

The second witness, James Kerwin from the Mountain States Legal Foundation, provided a primer on First Amendment law and discussed instances where government reporting of misinformation could cross the line from persuasion to coercion. Kerwin specifically addressed allegations that Katie Hobbs, the current Democratic governor, attempted to censor Republican social media posts. He argued that some of Hobbs’ requests could be considered coercive but emphasized the need for additional context.

Despite the focus on election manipulation, the lone Democrat on the three-member committee, Rep. Cesar Aguilar, expressed disappointment that there was not more emphasis on privacy issues and the influence of tech companies. He hoped that the committee would address ways to keep citizens’ information private from social media companies, citing California’s data privacy law as an example.

No conclusions were reached during the meeting, and additional hearings are expected before the end of the year to further explore the issues surrounding regulation and oversight of technology and social media companies.


– Arizona legislative committee investigates government influence on social media and election manipulation (The Arizona Republic)
– Robert Epstein alleges bias in Google search results favoring Hillary Clinton (The Arizona Republic)
– James Kerwin addresses allegations of censorship Katie Hobbs (The Arizona Republic)