GOP House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is calling for Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify before Congress regarding their “filtering and censorship practices” that have “disproportionately” affected conservatives on social media.
In a letter to Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, McCarthy expressed his concerns over “revelations that some media companies are filtering the information that their users can see.” In an apparent reference to Twitter, which is struggling to contain fallout from a recent report by Vice News that it ‘shadow banned’ accounts of prominent conservatives and Republican lawmakers, McCarthy said that “these filtering and censorship practices have targeted conservatives disproportionately.”
While Twitter denied the accusations of shadow banning based on political affiliation or ideology, it admitted that it had “an issue” with auto-suggestions which has since been resolved. The algorithm’s glitch impacted not only Republicans, but also Democratic politicians, Twitter claims. It explained that Republican representatives were targeted not because of what they themselves post, but because of how other people interact with their profiles.
However, Twitter’s lengthy and cumbersome explanation did not satisfy Nunes, who said he is considering taking legal action against the company. McCarthy wrote that although Twitter has stopped suppressing conservatives, “serious questions remain about how and why the company filters content on its platform.” To clear up the matter, he asked the committee to schedule a public hearing for the coming fall.
“I would like to request a hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey so that the American people can learn more about the filtering and censorship practices on his platform,” the letter, first reported by Axios, reads.
Dorsey is yet to comment on the idea. CBS News and BuzzFeed said last week that Dorsey already agreed to testify before lawmakers – before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The testimony, however, is expected to focus mainly on alleged Russia meddling in elections.
After the report on Twitter’s shadow banning practices sparked outrage among conservatives, Dorsey sought to mitigate the damage, reaching out to Republican supporters via Fox News.
Saying that he “does understand the concern,” Dorsey attempted to portray Twitter as a platform that accommodates different political viewpoints, noting that the tech giant “even” has “ideological diversity” within its own ranks.
“Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans,” he tweeted last week. “Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.”
Twitter “SHADOW BANNING” prominent Republicans. Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 26, 2018
Dorsey stated in a recent interview that he understands why conservatives are distrustful of Silicon Valley tech companies stating:“I do understand the concern. It is something that we’re aware of… We have folks that are at various points in the political spectrum and they don’t feel comfortable today bringing up certain issues or their viewpoints on certain issues. And I don’t believe that is acceptable.”
In his letter to Greg Walden, Kevin McCarthy stated:
The Energy and Commerce Committee has been deeply engaged in tackling the very real challenges we are all facing?highlighted by the hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But there is more work to be done. Together we can continue to ask the tough questions, constructively engage, and map out a strategy to rebuild trust and accountability.
In that vein, I am writing to request the Energy and Commerce Committee hold a public hearing this fall with testimony from the companies that underpin our information-driven society. In particular, I would like to request a hearing with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey so that the American people can learn more about the filtering and censorship practices on his platform.
As reliance on technology increases, so too must our commitment to transparency and oversight. Moreover, we have a responsibility to ensure America?s tech future is built upon a foundation of rock and not sand. I am con?dent the House of Representatives can play a constructive role in this endeavor.
Read McCarthy’s letter in full below: