Twitter’s Jack Dorsey admits censoring Hunter Biden story was ‘wrong’ – AFTER the election
Both Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning. They received a ‘techlashing’ from politicians who are questioning their censorship of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story.
After Hunter Biden’s laptop and emails surfaced, the New York Post did an in-depth story on the scandal. Twitter proceeded to block the sharing of the story and banned the New York Post until they agreed to remove the post. They never did agree and Twitter eventually backtracked but not until many conservatives were also censored for sharing the news. Facebook also limited the distribution of the story but did not block it entirely.
For suppressing free speech, Republican lawmakers are seeking to strip the social media companies of legal protections they enjoy because they are not considered publishers under the law.
“That to me seems like you’re the ultimate editor,” committee chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during his opening statement. “The editorial decision by the New York Post to run the story was overridden by Twitter and Facebook in different fashions to prevent its dissemination. Now if that’s not making an editorial decision I don’t know what would be.”
Graham also asked, “What I want to try to find out is if you’re not a newspaper at Twitter or Facebook, then why do you have editorial control over the New York Post?”
In October, Republican lawmakers on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to approve formal summons for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. Democrats on the panel did not vote on the subpoena.
Dorsey had a prepared statement ready to go in his opening remarks. He attempted to explain that the Post story was blocked pursuant to a 2018 policy against spreading hacked materials. An explanation that many conservatives find hard to believe.
“We made a quick interpretation using no other evidence that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking, and according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread,” Dorsey testified. “Upon further consideration, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours.”
Dorsey tried to justify Twitter’s actions by saying that they had told the New York Post how they could unlock their account by deleting their tweet with the article and that they would be able to then tweet it again. The nation’s oldest news outlet instead pushed for Twitter to reverse their decision to block them in the first place. Dorsey said at the time they did not have a process for doing this. That also seems very questionable considering that Twitter blocks and unblocks accounts all the time.
“This incident demonstrated that we needed one and so we created one we believe is fair and appropriate,” Dorsey said of the questioned process.
Dorsey then addressed the protections social media companies have under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 says that companies such as Facebook and Twitter cannot be held liable for statements posted by users because the companies themselves are not the ones creating or editing the content as a newspaper would. Some lawmakers believe their actions in censoring articles such as the one by the New York Post qualify as editorial decisions.
Dorsey proposed three potential ways forward, which include an expansion of Section 230, new legislation from Congress, and a commitment by Twitter and other companies to engage in self-regulation.