October 30, 2020

Sen. Cruz Confronts Twitter CEO over Censorship: "Who Elected You?"

  • Horse Race

By: Amy Jo Underwood

In Brief:

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) confronted the CEO of Twitter during a hearing this week, and demanded an explanation for Twitter’s censorship of negative tweets about the Biden campaign. Cruz also confronted the Twitter CEO about the removal of tweeted links to the New York Post story on the Hunter Biden laptop. 

The Background:

Criticism of Twitter has increased during the past couple of weeks as concerning information regarding Hunter Biden emerged and was subsequently censored on social media. On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz addressed Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, during a hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee. Cruz demanded an explanation for the actions of Twitter, and gave several specific examples of Twitter’s censorship. 

According to Fox News, Cruz stated that Twitter interfered with tweets containing New York Post links. Dorsey’s defense was that the New York Post story was based on private emails reported to be on Hunter Biden’s laptop, and that Twitter had a policy against the use of hacked materials. Senator Cruz pointed out that Twitter did not censor information regarding President Trump’s tax returns, even though information appeared to be illegally leaked.

Dorsey further denied that Twitter had the ability to influence elections, when asked directly as to the scope of influence that Twitter had upon the election. Senator Cruz dismissed the claim as “absurd,” and questioned him further on why Twitter would silence users on their platform if they did not believe Twitter would have sway over elections. Dorsey’s defense was that Twitter silenced some content deemed as harmful as a means to make room for other material. 

According to Politico, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) questioned Dorsey as to why Twitter would allow violent anti-Israeli tweets from Iran’s leader while censoring tweets from the U.S. President regarding mail-in ballots. Dorsey replied that Twitter’s stance was to censor according to the potential of “off-line harm,” and that President Trump’s tweets were a source of confusion and harm. 

Fox News reported that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook was also questioned, and was asked by the Committee if there was reason to believe that the Biden laptop emails were a result of Russian disinformation. Zuckerberg replied that there was not.

According to The Hill, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 17th. 

Notable Quotes:

“‘Mr. Dorsey, who...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 asked.”  -Fox News

 

“‘You routinely restrict the president of the United States,’ Wicker said. ‘How does a claim by Chinese communists that the U.S. military is to blame for COVID stay up for two months without a fact check and the president’s tweet about the security of mail-in ballots get labeled instantly?’” -Politico

 

Amy Jo Underwood writes from Alabama

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