U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and his Republican colleagues unloaded on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey during a hearing that confronted technology companies over bias and censorship of free speech.
Dorsey was slammed by the Texas Republican during Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing as he was asked to explain his company’s decision to restrict a New York Post report with allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?” Cruz, who attended virtually, demanded.
“We’re not doing that,” Dorsey replied, apparently meaning that Twitter has since amended its hacked material policy which initially prevented users from tweeting links to the article by The Post, which was and still is blocked. “This is why I opened this hearing with calls for more transparency. We realized we need to earn trust more, we realized that more accountability is needed to show our intentions and to show the outcomes. So I hear the concerns and acknowledge them, but we want to fix it with more transparency.”
“Why did Twitter make the decision to censor the New York Post?” Cruz had confronted Dorsey during the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Wednesday which also included Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“We have a hacked materials policy … limiting the spread of materials that are hacked. We didn’t want Twitter to be a distributor of hacked materials,” Dorsey explained. “We found that the New York Post, because it showed the direct materials … [and] it was unclear how those were obtained, that it fell under this policy.”
But the Texas Republican blasted Dorsey for the decision-making which leaned more into censorship.
“They weren’t hiding what they claimed to be the source,” Cruz said. “Is it your position that Twitter, when you can’t tell the source, blocks press stories?”
“No, not at all. Our team made a fast decision,” Dorsey acknowledged.
He went on to claim that the block on the newspaper’s Twitter account has been rescinded but there are steps The Post must follow first to regain access.
“They have to log into their account, which they can do at this minute, delete the original tweet, which fell under our original enforcement actions, and they can tweet the exact same material, the exact same article and it would go through,” Dorsey said.
Cruz correctly noted that a New York Times report on President Trump’s tax returns, published without his consent, was not subject to the same restrictions as the social media platform’s enforcement of policies are “clearly employed in a deeply partial way.”
“Let’s be clear: The New York Post isn’t just some random guy tweeting. The New York Post has the fourth-highest circulation of any newspaper in America. The New York Post is 200 years old. The New York Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton,” he said.
“And your position is that you can sit in Silicon Valley and that you can tell them what stories they can publish, and you can tell the American people what reporting they can hear, is that right?” Cruz asked. “The media must genuflect and obey your dictates if they wish to be able to communicate with readers, is that right?”
“We’re not blocking The Post …,” Dorsey said after denying Cruz’s accusations.
“Can the New York Post post on their Twitter account?” the lawmaker asked.
“If they go into their account …,” Dorsey replied as Cruz cut in, “No, is your answer to that.”
The heated exchange continued as the irate senator effectively confronted Dorsey over Twitter’s blatant bias in seeming to protect Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The Twitter CEO repeatedly denied the intentional bias and acknowledged “errors” in policy.
Dorsey was not alone in feeling the wrath of the Texas lawmaker who also called out Zuckerberg and Pichai during the hearing.
“The three witnesses we have before this committee today collectively pose, I believe, the single greatest threat to free speech in America,” Cruz said, “and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections.”
Author: Frieda Powers