Senator Ted Cruz ripped into Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for his company’s decision to block users from tweeting a report from the New York Post allegedly containing evidence of unethical and possibly unlawful behaviour by Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
“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?” Mr Cruz said, concluding his questioning of Mr Dorsey at a hearing on Wednesday before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.
Donald Trump and his conservatives allies — including members of Congress — have tried to link Mr Biden to unproven allegations of “corrupt” business dealings in Ukraine and China orchestrated by his son, accusations the former vice president has dismissed as a Russian disinformation campaign.
The Trump campaign has been pushing unverified and uncorroborated stories purporting to come from emails taken from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
A computer repairman in Delaware claimed the laptop was left in his store. It later ended up with Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, who provided it to the New York Post.
Mr Dorsey pushed back against Mr Cruz’s suggestion that Twitter blocked tweets with a link to the New York Post’s reporting due to anti-conservative political bias.
“We're not doing that. And this is why I opened this hearing with calls for more transparency. We realize we need to earn trust more. We realize that more accountability is needed to show our intentions and to show the outcomes. So I hear the concerns and acknowledge them, but we want to fix it with more transparency,” Mr Dorsey said.
Democrats on the committee pushed back against the GOP majority’s decision to hold the hearings in the first place, just six days out from the US presidential election.
“We never do this, and there is a very good reason we don't call people before us and yell at them for not doing our bidding during an election. It is a misuse of taxpayer dollars. It's happening here and it's a scar on this committee and the US Senate,” Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz said.
Mr Schatz called Wednesday’s hearing a “sham” of faux outrage from Republicans who have drummed up a narrative of anti-conservative bias in social media that is unsupported by data.
Democrats have argued that Twitter, Facebook, and Google should in fact be more aggressive in monitoring their platforms to root out hate speech and misinformation, trafficked in by people from all across the political spectrum.
Mr Schatz assailed Republicans for using their Senate majority to hold partisan committee hearings targeting an opposing presidential nominee.
“What we are seeing today is an attempt to bully the CEOs of private companies into carrying out a hit-job on a presidential candidate, by making sure they push out foreign and domestic misinformation meant to influence the election,” Mr Schatz said.