GOP leader wants Twitter CEO to testify on ‘shadow banning’
House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (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 Walden (R-Ore.), urging him to request a hearing with Dorsey to learn more about “filtering and censorship practices on his platform.”
“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 Trump 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.”
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
A representative for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz (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.