During a hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, multiple Democrats referred to Twitter’s practice of shadowbanning as a “conspiracy theory.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today to discuss Twitter’s censorship and banning practices. During the course of the hearing, a number of representatives referred to the censorship of conservatives on social media as a “conspiracy theory.”
Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) began his opening statement by saying: “Over the past few weeks, President Trump and many Republicans have peddled conspiracy theories about Twitter and other social media platforms to whip up their base and fundraise. I fear the Republicans are using this hearing for those purposes instead of addressing the serious issues raised by social media platforms that affect American’s everyday lives.”
Pallone later stated that President Trump uses Twitter to “bully and belittle people.” Pallone continued to say that Trump “routinely tweets false statements designed to mislead Americans and foster discord, and the President’s actions coarsen the public debate and feed distrust within our society.”
When discussing some of the issues that Twitter faces from targeted harassment on the platform to the spread of misinformation, Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) stated: “Mister Chairman I just wanted to say for the record, I don’t think these issues are unique to Twitter unlike so many of the invented, borderline conspiracy theories, I believe this is a real threat and I appreciate you, Mr. Dorsey, taking this seriously and your entire organization so that we can really reduce these threats online.”
Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA) began his opening remarks by reading a number of quotes to Dorsey and asking him to confirm whether or not they were true. The quotes were: “social media is being rigged to censor conservatives,” “I don’t know what Twitter’s up to, it sure looks to me like they’re censoring people and they ought to stop it,” and “Twitter shadowbanning prominent Republicans. Bad.” The statements were attributed to House majority leader Kevin McCarthy, Devin Nunes and President Trump. Dorsey denied that Twitter was taking part in any of the practices mentioned in the quotes.
Representative Doyle stated: “I think it’s important for people to understand, the premise of this whole hearing and the reason that Twitter somehow with all of the other social media platforms out there got the singular honor to sit in front of this committee is because there’s some implication that your site is trying to censor conservative voices on your platform. Now, when you try to explain the shadowbanning as I understand it – you had a system where if people who were following people had some behaviors, that was the trigger that caused the shadowbanning so you’re really like an equal opportunity shadowbanner, you didn’t just shadowban four conservative Republicans, you shadowbanned 600,000 people across your entire platform across the globe that had people following them that had certain behaviors which caused you to downgrade them coming up.”
The full livestream of the hearing can be watched here.