In opening statements before the Senate Commerce Committee, Twitter and Facebook CEOs, alongside Google’s Sundar Pichai, claimed that altering the protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, would harm free expression on the internet.
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, said stripping back Section 230 could “collapse how we communicate on the Internet” and leave “only a small number of giant and well-funded” tech companies.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said “without Section 230, platforms could potentially be held liable for everything people say” and could “face liability for doing even basic moderation, such as removing hate speech and harassment that impacts the safety and security of their communities.”
Dorsey and Zuckerberg’s perceived arrogance was cut short by blistering examination by Republican Senators on both platforms’ censorship of the Hunter Biden story.
In his opening salvo to Twitter’s CEO, US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), said, “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?”
Ted Cruz absolutely BODIED him. pic.twitter.com/GLqV3fSoRZ
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) October 28, 2020
Dorsey, attending the hearing virtually and sporting a beard reminiscent of Osama bin Laden, insisted this was not the case. He then made the incredulous statement that Twitter doesn’t haves the ability to influence elections.
Cruz fired back, calling that idea absurd, “You’re testifying 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?”
“Not if they don’t hear information.” Cruz then pointed out the absurdity asking, rhetorically, “If you don’t think you have the power to influence elections, why do you block anything?”
Dorsey admitted that it’s censorship of the New York Post story was “flawed” and claimed the ability to share the story was now possible for individual users. Cruz later tweeted that this was a false statement.
An hour ago you couldn’t tweet this @nypost story.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 28, 2020
Later in the hearing, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), took Dorsey to task for his belief Twitter does not influence elections. He also rebuked company’s deliberate decision to censor the Post’s reporting, as well as Facebook’s decision to scar it with a “flag.”
“Do either one of you have any evidence that the New York Post story is part of Russian disinformation or that those emails aren’t authentic?” Johnson asked Dorsey and Zuckerberg, to which each replied they did not.
Dorsey reiterated the excuse they believed it violated their hacking policy, only for Johnson to point out that the emails were not hacked.