If Republicans and Democrats can agree on one thing, the internet giants have become too powerful and need to be held back. Many lawmakers also agree that a law should be removed from companies protecting websites from liability for content created by their users.
But members of the Senate Commerce Committee will almost certainly be making very different arguments to get their points home on Wednesday.
Republicans regularly accuse Facebook, Google, and Twitter of censoring conservative positions by flagging, reducing, and minimizing the reach of posts by Republican politicians and right-wing media figures. They have the support of President Trump, who passed an executive order this summer aimed at depriving tech companies of their safe haven under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
Three Republican senators – Ted Cruz from Texas, Mike Lee from Utah, and Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee – will almost certainly accuse the Silicon Valley giants of censorship. The senators were the loudest about a perceived liberal tendency within tech companies. Some of the toughest questions and hints could be directed to Jack Dorsey, the chief executive of Twitter, to make recent decisions to remove and flag posts from Mr. Trump.
Don't expect Democrats to touch the issue of censorship. Instead, they will focus on a number of topics that point to the power problem facing internet giants. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, the senior Democrat on the Commerce Committee, will call on companies to help local news outlets whose business models have been eroded by the rise of the internet. Expect Senators Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut to accuse Google and Facebook of monopoly behavior and advocate the need for stronger antitrust enforcement. Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and Mr. Blumenthal are likely to speak about privacy practices.
Another thing to watch out for Democrats: possible signals of what will move the party forward if Joseph R. Biden Jr. wins the presidential election and the Senate takes over democratic control.