Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is set to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow regarding the company’s censorship practices, here’s what you need to know ahead of the hearing.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow, Wednesday, September 5 at 1:30 p.m. Ahead of the hearing, Breitbart News has chosen to compile a number of facts relating to Twitter’s censorship practices and some of the questions that may be posed to Dorsey at tomorrow’s hearing.
Just a few days ago, Twitter claimed that their overzealous shadowbanning of certain accounts was due to a system error, in a tweet Twitter stated that accounts believed to have a “higher likelihood of being viewed as abusive” were downranked in public conversation but their system has since changed to fix this issue. Twitter did not define how they determined which accounts were abusive on their platform but did state that a “higher level of precision” was needed in determining which content to downrank.
In May we introduced efforts to improve conversational health. Based on your feedback, we realize some of these efforts created confusion about results in the Latest search tab. In response, we want to share a recent change we’ve made. https://t.co/ffwQBrgDUN
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 2, 2018
Twitter did note that the platform would continue to factor “behavioral signals” into how they ranks tweets, in order to serve “conversational health,” but did not define what these signals are. Twitter has also previously denied taking part in any form of shadowbanning whatsoever, however now it appears that they have chosen to rename the practice “downranking” in order to come clean about their practices without admitting to taking part in a practice that they have previously denied the existence of.
Twitter also recently came under fire for blocking the campaign ad of Republican congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng from their advertising network. Shortly after Facebook refused to allow Republican Congressional candidate Elizabeth Heng to advertise with her campaign ad on their platform, Twitter made the same decision. Facebook blocked the ad, which shared the story of Heng’s family being forced to flee Cambodia for the U.S., claiming that the Facebook couldn’t allow videos that contained “shocking, disrespectful, or sensational” imagery on their advertising platform. The ad was eventually approved with a Facebook spokesperson stating: “Upon further review, it is clear the video contains historical imagery relevant to the candidate’s story. We have since approved the ad and it is now running on Facebook.” A decision Twitter apparently disagrees with.
Heng commented on Twitter’s decision stating: “In the past few weeks Facebook and Twitter have been called out by conservatives for deliberately shutting down conservative voices as evidenced in multiple cases. Unfortunately, the tech companies are holding the all of the power and have no apparent desire to correct biased censorship of their platforms. When I’m elected I’ll fight for Internet transparency, so that every American has a chance to be heard.”
Dorsey’s appearance before the Committee comes largely thanks to GOP House Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) who sent a letter to Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in which McCarthy requested that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey be called to testify before the committee. Speaking to Breitbart News a the time, McCarthy stated: “It is impossible to ignore the fact that only one party is being slammed by this censorship, over and over again,” said McCarthy. “When only one side is doing the talking, you don’t call it a dialogue. You call it a lecture.”
In his letter to Greg Walden, Kevin McCarthy stated:
The Energy and Commerce Committee has been deeply engaged in tackling the very real challenges we are all facing?highlighted by the hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But there is more work to be done. Together we can continue to ask the tough questions, constructively engage, and map out a strategy to rebuild trust and accountability.
In that vein, I am writing to request the Energy and Commerce Committee hold a public hearing this fall with testimony from the companies that underpin our information-driven society. In particular, I would like to request a hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey so that the American people can learn more about the filtering and censorship practices on his platform.
As reliance on technology increases, so too must our commitment to transparency and oversight. Moreover, we have a responsibility to ensure America?s tech future is built upon a foundation of rock and not sand. I am con?dent the House of Representatives can play a constructive role in this endeavor.
McCarthy previously called out other tech giants such as Google after the search engine listed Nazism as the ideology of the California Republican Party. McCarthy stated:
Well, this was disgusting. So, if anybody went and searched it through Google, which is the biggest search engine, 90% of everything on the Internet that’s searched goes through Google, the ideology didn’t say the party of Lincoln or the party of Reagan. It said our ideology was Nazism.
They said they pulled that from Wikipedia. The tough part is, I was — talked about this beforehand, and I looked at Wikipedia, and it didn’t say Nazism on there. So, this is a real concern that the bias has to stop. Because if you just went a couple of days before to Instagram, and you searched Donald Trump, Jr., it gave you a warning that this site could be harmful and could actually cause death.
So, that was a real concern of what’s going on. And then what happened at Amazon, kicking out the Alliance [Defending] Freedom, that you couldn’t give the charity money through there anymore, even though these people defend religious freedom before the Supreme Court, and that Amazon Smile, those customers can’t pick that charity anymore to give money to.”
Committee Chairman Greg Walden recently tweeted that “millions of Americans deserve answers as to how their content is policed on social media,” hopefully this will be a major theme in tomorrows hearing.
Tomorrow, we will address serious concerns about how Twitter moderates its platform. Oregonians and millions of Americans deserve answers as to how their content is policed on social media. What questions would you like to ask @Jack during tomorrow’s hearing? #TwitterTestifies
— Rep. Greg Walden (@repgregwalden) September 4, 2018
Dorsey’s hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee will take place tomorrow, September 5 at 1:30 p.m.