Sen. Ted Cruz during a hearing on Wednesday accused Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey of censoring content with an anti-conservative bias, with the Texas Republican focusing his argument around a policy the tech company has since changed.
Cruz slammed Dorsey during the Senate Commerce Committee hearing over the company’s decision earlier this month to limit the spread of a New York Post report that included allegations about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden that have been disputed by the former vice president’s campaign.
The company initially blocked users, including the New York Post, from tweeting links to the article, citing Twitter’s hacked material policy. The company later amended the policy and allowed users to share the links.
“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?” Cruz asked Dorsey during a heated exchange on Wednesday.
“We’re not doing that,” Dorsey responded. “This is why I opened this hearing with calls for more transparency. We realized we need to earn trust more, we realized 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.”
Cruz, one of the Senate’s most vocal critics of Big Tech, said Google, Facebook and Twitter pose “the single greatest threat to free speech in America.” He took particular aim at Twitter, calling the company’s conduct the “most egregious.”
Dorsey defended the platform’s policies against Cruz’s accusations of censorship. Rather, he said, Twitter wants to make sure that “more voices on the platform are possible.”
“We see a lot of abuse and harassment, which ends up silencing people and having them leave from the platform,” Dorsey said.
He also said that the Post would be able to share its article if it deletes its initial tweet, under the company’s amended policy.
Dorsey noted that every person or organization that signs up to have an account on Twitter agrees to its terms and services.
Republicans’ accusations of an anti-conservative bias were amplified in the wake of actions taken to limit the spread of the Post’s article, which instantly drew scrutiny over its sourcing. Conservative content, however, is often amplified on social media platforms and is dominant on Facebook, based on publicly available data about post interactions.
President Trump has also criticized the companies’ decisions to limit the spread of the Post’s report and add warning labels to his own posts with baseless claims that mail-in ballots lead to widespread voter fraud.
Wednesday’s Senate hearing with the CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google comes less than one week from Election Day. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Dorsey are scheduled to appear again before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17.