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GOP senator calls for third-party audit of Twitter's suspension policies

"It is time for Twitter to prove it is truly committed to free speech."

Robert Alexander/Getty Images

In response to Twitter's suspension of the pro-life film, "Unplanned," on opening weekend, a Republican senator has called for a third-party investigation of the company's social media policies.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday asking the Silicon Valley executive to have an outside party review how the company decides which content and accounts are removed from the platform.

Full text of the letter was sent out in a news release Wednesday afternoon:

"Those who exercise their First Amendment right to advocate for the inherent worth and dignity of all persons, regardless of size or age, are used to biased treatment from big corporations," Hawley writes. "But platform companies like Twitter are supposed to rise above that partisan nonsense."

Twitter suspended the official account for the movie — "Unplanned," which chronicles the life of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director who became pro-life after witnessing an abortion firsthand – without notice. The account was later reinstated and garnered more followers than Planned Parenthood's.

The letter adds that Congress has currently given Twitter and other social media companies a "sweetheart deal" when it comes to regulation, granting them immunity from legal ramifications of content posted by third parties, so long as tech companies provide "a forum for a true diversity of political discourse" under section 230 of Title 47 of federal regulations.

"Yet your company has repeatedly abused that privilege," Hawley writes. "You often refuse to allow pro-life organizations to purchase ads because you deem it 'inflammatory' when these groups advocate for the right to life, but you allow those on the other side to advocate for late-term abortion—a practice opposed by more than 80 percent of Americans."

The letter also stresses the importance of such an audit being performed by an external third party because internal "audit would be inherently biased," citing Dorsey's own 2018 admission that the company has a "more left-leaning" bias.

"I am rapidly losing confidence that Twitter is committed to the free speech principles that justify immunity under section 230," the letter says. "It is time for Twitter to prove it is truly committed to free speech: conduct a third-party audit and release the results to the public, in full."

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