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Senator Wicker seeks U.S. Senate...

Senator Wicker seeks U.S. Senate hearing following Musk release of “Twitter Files”

By: Frank Corder - December 9, 2022

“It is now clear to everyone that Twitter coordinated with a presidential campaign and a party committee to suppress speech,” Wicker says.

Following the release of the “Twitter Files” by Elon Musk, Mississippi U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, has sent a letter to Senator Maria Cantwell, chair of the Committee, urging her to hold a hearing on the state of free speech on social media before the end of the 117th Congress.

Wicker’s urgent request comes as Musk has revealed that the former operators at Twitter coordinated with political campaigns and government officials on the release of information, or lack thereof, while also shadowbanning accounts Twitter executives found to be offense or outside the bounds. These accounts largely appear to be from conservative or Republican persons.

As also noted recently, the “Twitter Files” highlight internal communications from Twitter’s content moderation team that confirmed the tech giant had been coordinating with the Biden campaign to take down posts and that there was no defensible basis for censoring a report from the New York Post regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 campaign cycle and beyond.

In the letter to Cantwell, Senator Wicker cited his attempts to advance legislation that would address abuses by big tech companies that have met stiff resistance from other members of the Committee.

“After the release of the ‘Twitter Files,’ we now know Twitter was removing content at the request of the Biden campaign and that the process for deciding to censor the New York Post story was haphazard at best,” Wicker wrote.  “One Twitter employee expressed that he was ‘struggling to understand the policy basis for marking’ the Hunter Biden story as ‘unsafe.’  Another employee had to ask if Twitter’s public reasoning for censoring the story was truthful after Twitter’s Head of Trust & Safety admitted that Twitter was preventing the story from being shared.”

Wicker goes on to say that even while this chaotic process played out, “Twitter continued to remove other content at the direction of the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee.”

“It is now clear to everyone that Twitter coordinated with a presidential campaign and a party committee to suppress speech, and this Committee should not remain silent,” Wicker argued.

You can read the full letter below.

Dear Chair Cantwell:

Two years ago, the Chief Executive Officers of Google, Facebook, and Twitter testified before the Senate Commerce Committee (the Committee) and promised to implement changes that would build trust and increase transparency in their content moderation practices.  Instead, the leaders of these tech giants have only increased enforcement actions against prominent political voices online while continuing to elude accountability.

It has been over two years since the full Committee last held a hearing on how to preserve the internet as a forum for open discourse.  Yet new information about Twitter’s content moderation practices, recently revealed in the so-called “Twitter Files,” makes clear that this issue demands further examination.  I respectfully request that you hold a hearing about the state of free speech on social media before the end of the 117th Congress.

Some of our colleagues and I have long suspected that Twitter and Facebook acted arbitrarily to censor a New York Post story critical of Hunter Biden that may have affected the outcome of the 2020 election.  Every new piece of information revealed has shown that we were right.  My questioning of Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg in 2020 revealed that neither company had direct evidence that the censored New York Post article was Russian misinformation.  Indeed, the Washington Post has since verified that 22,000 emails on the hard drive that served as the source of the New York Post story are authentic.

After the release of the “Twitter Files,” we now know Twitter was removing content at the request of the Biden campaign and that the process for deciding to censor the New York Post story was haphazard at best.  One Twitter employee expressed that he was “struggling to understand the policy basis for marking” the Hunter Biden story as “unsafe.”  Another employee had to ask if Twitter’s public reasoning for censoring the story was truthful after Twitter’s Head of Trust & Safety admitted that Twitter was preventing the story from being shared. Even while this chaotic process played out, Twitter continued to remove other content at the direction of the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee.  It is now clear to everyone that Twitter coordinated with a presidential campaign and a party committee to suppress speech, and this Committee should not remain silent.

It is no secret that some members of the Committee are unwilling to take any action to combat censorship online, but I urge you to consider whether it is truly in the national interest for tech giants to skirt public accountability for the impacts their own decisions have had on our political process. I have proposed many ways to address these abuses by Big Tech companies, but I have met stiff resistance from members of this Committee.  I proposed amending Section 230 in my Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act to limit Big Tech’s ability to remove content.  I also called for non-discrimination rules and increased transparency in my PRO-SPEECH Act.

Congress has a duty to protect the American people’s freedoms online.  I ask that you join me in creating more transparency by holding a hearing on preserving free speech on the internet before the end of the 117th Congress.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: frank@magnoliatribune.com