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GOP leader wants Twitter CEO to testify on ‘shadow banning’

GOP leader wants Twitter CEO to testify on ‘shadow banning’
© Greg Nash

House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyDemocrats in swing districts advised to avoid talking about immigration The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Trump travels to hurricane-ravaged Florida, Georgia McCarthy brother-in-law under scrutiny for earning federal contracts based on Native American identity claim MORE (R-Calif.) wants Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee about allegations that Dorsey's platform participated in "shadow-banning" of conservative users.

Axios reports that McCarthy sent a letter to the committee's chairman, Rep. Greg WaldenGregory (Greg) Paul WaldenVulnerable Republicans throw ‘Hail Mary’ on pre-existing conditions GOP senator wants Apple, Amazon to give briefing on reported Super Micro hack Overnight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions MORE (R-Ore.), urging him to request a hearing with Dorsey to learn more about "filtering and censorship practices on his platform.”

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“Any solution to this problem must start with accountability from companies like Twitter, whose platforms have enormous potential to impact the national conversation — and unfortunately, enormous potential for abuse,” McCarthy said, according to Axios.

“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," he added.

McCarthy's letter comes after the tech giant denied in a blog post that it practiced "shadow-banning" — or hiding tweets and profiles of misbehaving Twitter users without removing them from the site — of users based on political leanings.

"We do not shadow ban. You are always able to see the tweets from accounts you follow (although you may have to do more work to find them, like go directly to their profile). And we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints or ideology," Twitter developers wrote.

“For the most part, we believe the issue had more to do with how other people were interacting with these representatives’ accounts than the accounts themselves,” the company added.

Twitter declined to comment to Axios on McCarthy's letter, while Dorsey is planning to testify later this year in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on election interference and disinformation on his platform.

Several prominent Republicans including President TrumpDonald John TrumpKey takeaways from the Arizona Senate debate Major Hollywood talent firm considering rejecting Saudi investment money: report Mattis says he thought 'nothing at all' about Trump saying he may leave administration MORE have already spoken out against Twitter on the supposed bans, with Trump himself pledging to have his administration "look into" the issue.

"Twitter 'SHADOW BANNING' prominent Republicans," he tweeted last week. "Not good. We will look into this discriminatory and illegal practice at once! Many complaints."

A representative for Florida Rep. Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzHouse panels postpone meeting with Rosenstein Florida Dems attack GOP campaign as ‘racist’ after Republican labels Gillum 'Kill'em' on crime Top Trump ally in Congress says Rosenstein should be impeached even if he was joking about wearing a wire MORE (R) told The Hill that the lawmaker's office noticed a significant drop in traffic and follower growth around May of this year, the same time Twitter announced a company-wide policy to curb troll-like behavior on its platform.

"I feel victimized and violated by a platform that holds itself out to be a public forum,” Gaetz told The Hill. “It's really frustrating to think that the marketplace of ideas couldn't accommodate the thoughts and musings that I contribute.”

Twitter and other social media companies have faced criticism since the 2016 election over the platforms' potential to be used by foreign actors to spread disinformation and political advertisements with limited transparency.

Both Twitter and Facebook have pledged to improve transparency following the increased scrutiny after the 2016 elections.