Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) grilled a Twitter executive Wednesday over Twitter’s shadowbanning policy. Meadows said that Congress might have to use “extreme measures” to solve big tech censorship.
Reps. Meadows and Jordan grilled Twitter during a House Oversight and Reform hearing Wednesday on American election infrastructure and protecting political discourse.
Jordan asked Twitter public policy manager Kevin Kane whether Twitter shadowbans, which he denied. Shadowbanning prevents users from being seen by other users — shadowbanned accounts tend to think everything is normal with their account unless they look at their account analytics, which will show a steep dropoff in engagement with others. Even the left-wing VICE News admitted in July 2018 that Twitter shadowbans conservatives and Republicans.
The Ohio conservative grilled Twitter for what Twitter claimed was a “bug” that led to Reps. Meadows, Jordan, Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Devin Nunes (R-CA) from becoming suggested on Twitter’s platform.
Jordan said that out of the 435 members of the House and 100 senators, only “four conservative Republicans,” many of them critical of big tech’s censorship practices, experienced this form of shadow banning.
Meadows then spoke, demanding to know how long the bug went on that led to four congressmen from becoming shadow banned, to which Kane said he did not know the answer.
The North Carolina congressman said that the times have changed where Democrats and Republicans have agreed that social media platforms need to do more to prevent election interference and protect political discourse online.
“The days of free-lancing on this and having somebody stick their finger up and tell you whether… even if it takes extreme measures you have collided with a bipartisan issue for different reasons and we will make sure that we do that,” Meadows said.
Meadows’ statement echoes a similar sentiment from Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who said in May that Facebook’s privacy and censorship practices proves that large technology companies can now longer “self-regulate.”
“The only thing Facebook has done right in the past year is prove to us that tech can no longer self-regulate,” Blackburn said. “Does that mean we need to break up tech companies? Not necessarily, but that’s a discussion that should be had on another day, but there do need to be rules of the road.”