Skip to main content

Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

Share
Politics

Former Twitter executives criticized over censorship policies

Feb 08, 2023

Share

Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

Share

The much anticipated Republican-led Twitter hearing was originally intended to hold the company accountable for censoring conservatives and the Hunter Biden laptop story. But it turns out, both sides had sharp criticisms about the company’s shortcomings.

Republicans focused on what they described as Twitter’s anti-conservative bias before it was bought by Elon Musk. They focused on the decision to remove a New York Post story and suspend the account just before the 2020 election. 

“America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news and the intelligence communities to suppress and de-legitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents,” Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., said.

That led to another public admission from Twitter executives that they were wrong to censor accurate information.

“In hindsight, Twitter should have reinstated the post account immediately,” Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, said.

Republicans also expressed concern about the suppression of COVID-19 information. Twitter put a Stanford medical professor on a “trends blacklist” for saying lockdowns could harm children. Twitter also said a tweet that contained a screenshot of CDC data was misleading.

“I find it extremely alarming Twitter’s unfettered censorship spread into medical fields, and affected millions of Americans by suppressing expert opinions from doctors and censoring those who disagree with the CDC,” Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., said. 

But Democrats said conservatives have also benefited from Twitter’s content decisions. For instance, former President Trump once tweeted that four Democratic congresswomen should go back to the crime infested places from which they came.” That exact phrase was listed on a company policy about abuse toward immigrants, but it was removed from the list after Trump tweeted it. 

“So Twitter changed their own policy after the president violated it in order to potentially accommodate his tweet,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., asked.

Gadde responded, “yes.”

“Thank you so much for bias against right-wing on Twitter,” Cortez said.

Democrats brought in a former Twitter employee who said the company failed to act to suppress tweets that called for violence, which ultimately allowed content that led to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to move from the fringe to mainstream.

“We need to talk about Twitter’s failure to act before January 6. I am here to tell you that doing nothing is not an option. If we continue to do nothing, violence is going to happen again,” Annika Collier Navaroli said.

Congress has considered, and still may ultimately decide to take legislative action regarding online content. The witnesses said new laws could help improve what people see on social media sites.

“But whether it’s me or Elon Musk or someone else in the future, someone will have to make choices about the governance of online spaces. Those decisions should not be made behind closed doors or based on personal whims,” Yoel Roth, the former global head of trust and safety said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The much anticipated Republican led Twitter hearing was originally intended to hold the company accountable for censoring conservatives and the Hunter Biden laptop story. But it turned out, both sides had sharp criticisms about the company’s shortcomings. 

Comer: “America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news and the intelligence communities to suppress and de legitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents.”

 

That led to another public admission from Twitter executives that they were wrong to censor accurate information about Hunter Biden’s laptop and business dealings right before an election. 

 

Gadde: “In hindsight, Twitter should have reinstated the post account immediately.”

 

Republicans also expressed concern about the suppression of COVID information. 

That includes putting a Stanford medical professor on a trends blacklist for saying lockdowns could harm children. 

Twitter also flagged a tweet that included a screenshot of data from the CDC as misleading. 

 

Mace: “I find it extremely alarming. Twitter’s unfettered censorship spread into medical fields, and affected millions of Americans by suppressing expert opinions from doctors and censoring those who disagree with the CDC.

 

But Democrats said conservatives have also benefited from Twitter’s content decisions. 

For instance, former President Trump once tweeted that four Democratic Congresswomen should go back to the “crime infested places from which they came.”

Twitter had that exact phrase listed on a policy about abuse toward immigrants but removed it from the list after Trump tweeted it. 

AOC:So Twitter changed their own policy after the president violated it in order to potentially accommodate his tweet. 

Gadde: Yes. 

AOCThank you so much for bias against right wing on Twitter.” 

 

Democrats brought in a former Twitter employee who said the company failed to act to suppress tweets that called for violence. She said that allowed content that led to the January 6th Capitol riot to move from the fringe to the mainstream.

 

Annika Collier Navaroli: “we need to talk about Twitter’s failure to act before January 6. I am here to tell you that doing nothing is not an option. If we continue to do nothing, violence is going to happen again.” 

 

Since both sides are unhappy, Congress may ultimately decide to take legislative action regarding online content. 

 

Roth: But whether it’s me or Elon Musk or someone else in the future, someone will have to make choices about the governance of online spaces. Those decisions should not be made behind closed doors or based on personal whims. 

 

The House Oversight Committee is planning more hearings on censorship, Straight Arrow News will continue to report on it with unbiased, straight facts.