Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will now testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on September 5. According to The Hill, Republican lawmakers claim they are being unfairly censored by the social media juggernaut.
“Twitter is an incredibly powerful platform that can change the national conversation in the time it takes a tweet to go viral,” Rep. Greg Walden (R) said in a statement. He added that when choices made about content are decided using “opaque processes,” the American people have a right to be concerned. The purpose of the committee, Walden says, is to determine how “Twitter monitors and polices content.”
“We look forward to Mr. Dorsey being forthright and transparent regarding the complex processes behind the company’s algorithms and content judgment calls,” Walden said.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy from California has called for Dorsey’s appearance before the panel to answer claims that the social media network is “biased against conservatives.”
“Over the past several months, I have seen more and more examples of censorship that impact public officials and concerned citizens expressing conservative thought,” said McCarthy. Despite reports of Dorsey’s reluctance to address the issue, McCarthy said he has had numerous conversations with Dorsey and others. He said that they all agreed that more transparency was necessary in order to help the American public trust the social network again.
The claims come amid controversy that Twitter had engaged in “shadowbanning,” a practice that virtually blocks a user’s content from being seen. When members of the GOP tried to search their handles, they were unsuccessful, leaving many to feel that Twitter was singling them out.
But Twitter said that they were not engaging in shadowbanning. They said that it was simply due to a glitch in an algorithm which was built to “crack down on certain user behavior.” This isn’t the only time the social media network has been in the news recently. Twitter banned InfoWars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, but lifted the ban after just one week.
According to the Guardian, Dorsey’s inability to keep Jones suspended (which companies like Apple and Spotify have done) is par for the course.
“He seems to be intent on ignoring the rules that his company established to keep the discourse safe for both the people who use it and for the advertisers that sell to them.” Though he tries hard to keep the platform a beacon of free speech, he doesn’t “seem to comprehend that harassment is actually the biggest barrier to free speech.”