Chairman, I wanna thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
The three witnesses we have before this committee today collectively pose, I believe, the single greatest threat to free speech in America and the greatest threat we have to free and fair elections.
Yesterday I spent a considerable amount of time speaking with both Mr. Zuckerberg and Mr. Pichai.
I have concerns about the behavior of both of their companies.
I would note that Facebook is, at the minimum, at least trying to make some efforts in the direction of defending free speech.
I appreciate their doing so.
Google, I agree with the concerns that Senator Klobuchar raised.
I think Google has more power than any company on the face of the planet.
And the antitrust concerns are real.
The impact of Google is profound.
And I expect we will have continued and ongoing discussions about Google’s abuse of that power and its willingness to manipulate search outcomes to influence and change election results.
But today, I wanna focus my questioning on Mr. Dorsey and on Twitter.
Because of the three players before us, I think Twitter’s conduct has by far been the most egregious.
Mr. Dorsey, does Twitter have the ability to influence elections?
You don’t believe Twitter has any ability to influence elections?
No, we’re one part of a spectrum of communication channels that people have.
So you’re testify to this committee right now that Twitter, when it silences people, when it sensors people, when it blocks political speech, that has no impact on elections?
People have a choice of other communication channels with-
Not if they don’t hear information.
If you don’t think you have the power to influence elections, why do you block anything?
Well, we have policies that are focused on making sure that more voices on the platform are possible.
We see a lot of abuse and harassment, which ends up silencing people [UNKNOWN] leave from the platform.
All right, Mr.
Dorsey, I find your opening answers absurd on their face, but let’s talk about the last two weeks in particular.
As you know, I have long been concerned about Twitter’s pattern of censoring and silencing individual Americans with whom Twitter disagrees.
But two weeks ago, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, Facebook, 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.
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?
We had a hacked materials policy that we [CROSSTALK]-
When was that policy adopted?
In 2018, I believe.
In 2018, go ahead, what was the policy?
So the policy is around limiting the spread of materials that are hacked.
We didn’t want Twitter to be a distributor for hacked materials.
We found that the New York Post, because it showed the direct materials, screenshots of the direct materials, and it was unclear how those were attained that it fell under this policy.
So in your view, if it’s unclear the source of a document, and in this instance, the New York Post documented what it said the source was, which it said it was a laptop owned by Hunter Biden that had been turned in to a repair store.
So they weren’t hiding what they claimed to be the source.
Is it your position that Twitter, when you can’t tell the source, blocks press stories?
No, not at all.
Our team made a fast decision.
The enforcement action, however, of blocking URLs, both in tweets and in DM, in direct messages, we believe was incorrect and we changed it within 24 hours-,
Today, [UNKNOWN] the New York Post is still blocked from tweeting, two weeks later.
Yes, they have to log in to their account, which they can do at this minute, delete the original tweet which fell under our original enforcement actions, and they can tweet the exact same material from the exact same article and it would go through.
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.
The New York Post has the fourth highest circulation of any newspaper in America.
The New York Post is over 200 years old.
The New York Post was founded by Alexander Hamilton.
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, that you can tell the American people what reporters they can hear.
Is that right?
No, every person, every account, every organization that signs up to Twitter agrees to our terms of service.
Terms of service-
So media outlets must [UNKNOWN] and obey your dictates if they wish to be able to communicate with readers.
Is that right?
No, not at all.
We recognized an error in this policy, and specifically the enforcement-
You’re still blocking blocking their posts.
You’re still blocking their posts.
Right now, today, you’re blocking their posts.
We’re not blocking the Post.
Anyone can tweet.
Can the New York Post post on their Twitter account?
If they go into their account-
[CROSSTALK] is your answer to that.
Unless they [UNKNOWN] and agree with your dictates.
Let me ask you something.
You claimed it was because of a hacked materials policy.
I find that facially highly dubious and clearly employed in a deeply partial way.
Did Twitter block the distribution of the New York Times, a story a few weeks ago that purported to be based on copies of President Trump’s tax returns?
We didn’t find that a violation of our terms of service and its policy in particular because there’s reporting about the material.
It wasn’t distributing the material.
Okay, well, that’s actually not true.
They posted what they purported to be original source materials, and federal law, federal statute makes it a crime, a federal felony to distribute someone’s tax returns against their knowledge.
So that material was based on something that was distributed in violation of federal law.
And yet, Twitter gleefully allowed people to circulate that.
But when the article was critical of Joe Biden, Twitter engaged in rampant censorship and silencing.
And again, we recognized the errors in that policy.
We changed it within 24 hours.
But you have still blocked the New York Post.
You haven’t changed it.
We have changed it.
They can log in to their account, delete the original tweet-
You forced the Politico reporter to take down his post about the New York Post as well.
Is that correct?
Within that 24 hour period, yes.
But as the policy has changed, anyone can tweet [CROSSTALK]-
[UNKNOWN] you can censor the New York Post, you can censor Politico.
Presumably, you can censor the New York Times or any other media outlet.
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?
Let’s give Mr.
Dorsey a few seconds to answer that, and then we have to conclude this segment.
Well, we’re not doing that, and this is why I opened this hearing with calls for more transparency.
We realized we need to earn our trust more.
We realized that more accountability is needed, and to show our intentions and to show the outcomes.
So I hear the concerns and acknowledge them, but we wanna fix it with more transparency.
Thank you, Senator Cruz.