Speaking at the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on social media censorship today, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) identified a key way in which left-wing activists abuse Twitter’s system to mass-report and mas-block their political opponents, gaming the platform’s banning and downranking algorithms. He then followed it up with a key question about Twitter verification.
Rep. Shimkus asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey if his platform’s currently granted “power to the loudest mob” and ultimately “fail[s] to protect controversial speech.”
“What about if users band together … Would that be considered manipulation?”
Dorsey responded that “human coordination” in order to manipulate Twitter’s systems made the issue “difficult.”
Shimkus went on to draw attention to Twitter’s verification process, which Dorsey admitted was in “serious need of a reboot and a reworking.”
“How does the review process for designating verified users to align with your community guidelines or standards?” asked Shimkus.
Dorsey then admitted that verified users have an advantage in spreading their messages on the platform. The Twitter CEO explained that the verified badge is a “signal used in some of our algorithms” to rank content higher in public areas of the site.
Dorsey said that Twitter is “asking ourselves” whether the promotion of verified users is “still correct today.”
Left-wing verified users are regularly allowed to get away with rule violations on Twitter. Recently, Twitter decided that a verified user calling the First Lady a “hoebag” and a “hooker” did not violate the platform’s terms of service. In 2016, Twitter refused to take action against the rapper Talib Kweli, who repeatedly called Breitbart Hollywood reporter Jerome Hudson a “coon.” Twitter also allowed recent New York Times hire Sarah Jeong to become verified without deleting her racist tweets, even after they became the subject of national attention.
Twitter did temporarily suspend a conservative, Candace Owens of Turning Point USA, for imitating Jeong’s tweets.