Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday grilled Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Twitter's censorship of the New York Post at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on tech companies and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
At the hearing, the CEOs of Twitter, Google, and Facebook testified on whether Big Tech's immunity from lawsuits under Section 230 has enabled "bad behavior."
"Of the three players before us, I think Twitter's conduct has by far been the most egregious," Cruz said.
Cruz began by asking Dorsey if Twitter has the ability to influence elections, which Dorsey denied.
"So you testify to this committee right now that Twitter, when it silences people, when it censors people, when it blocks political speech, that has no impact on elections?" Cruz asked.
"People have choice of other communication channels," Dorsey responded.
"Not if they don't hear information," Cruz responded.
Turning to Twitter's censorship of the New York Post, Cruz said the company had "crossed a threshold that is fundamental in our country.
"Two weeks ago, Twitter made the unilateral decision to censor the New York Post in a series of two blockbuster articles, both alleging evidence of corruption against Joe Biden, the first concerning Ukraine, the second concerning communist China," Cruz said. "And Twitter made the decision, number one, to prevent users — any user — from sharing those stories. And number two, you went even further and blocked the New York Post from sharing on Twitter its own reporting. Why did Twitter make the decision to censor the New York Post?"
Dorsey explained that the Post articles appeared to violate Twitter's hacked materials policy by publishing screenshots of emails while it was unclear how the emails were obtained. He said that the decision to block users from sharing the Post story was "incorrect" and that Twitter "changed it."
But Cruz interjected, noting that the Post is still locked out of its Twitter account. Dorsey explained that if the Post logged into its account and deleted the original tweet that fell under Twitter's enforcement actions, the account would be restored and the Post would be able to share the same material without censorship. But Cruz wasn't having it.
"So Mr. Dorsey, your ability is you have the power to force a media outlet — let's be clear, the New York Post isn't just some random guy tweeting ... and your position is that you can sit in Silicon Valley and demand of the media that you can tell them what stories they can publish and you can tell the American people what reporting they can hear," Cruz said.
Cruz said Twitter's hacked material policy claims were "highly dubious and clearly employed in a deeply partial way."
"Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a Democratic super PAC, silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?" Cruz demanded.
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