House Republicans blasted the social media censorship of a New York Post article damaging to Joe Biden and renewed calls for a clampdown on Big Tech.
Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee called for an emergency hearing before the Nov. 3 election to hold Twitter and Facebook accountable for “election interference.”
Meanwhile, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said the social media giants should no longer be afforded liability protections under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.
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“It is clear that section 230 in its current form is no longer working,” McCarthy said Thursday.
Critics believe that Twitter, Facebook and Google should no longer be shielded as a neutral platform when they operate more like a publisher.
“It is time to scrap the law and start over,” McCarthy said.
President Trump also called to “repeal section 230” in a tweet Wednesday blasting Twitter and Facebook for the “terrible” blackout of the New York Post story. The explosive report purports to show emails from Hunter Biden linking his father to his Ukraine business dealings.
The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, also demanded answers from Big Tech. In an effort to sidestep the Twitter clampdown, Jordan posted the full New York Post story on his website and the GOP’s Judiciary Committee website and tweeted out the links to the government sites.
“Nice try, @jack,” the Judiciary Committee account wrote to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “But, we won’t stop.”
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The call for an emergency hearing in the House would need the approval of Democrats since they hold the majority. A spokesperson for the Oversight Committee’s Chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Republicans sent a letter to her Thursday urging for a hearing.
“Big Tech’s censorship is election interference and we call on Chairwoman Maloney to hold an emergency hearing immediately in order to hold them accountable and protect the integrity of the election,” Rep. James Coner, R-Ky., and the other GOP members wrote.
In the Senate, however, Republicans have control and are already taking action.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley called on the heads of Twitter and Facebook on Thursday to testify. They said a subpoena was in the works, as critics claimed the social media platforms have been censoring reporting critical of Democrats.
“This is election interference and we’re 19 days out from an election,” Cruz, R-Texas, said. “It has no precedent in the history of democracy. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee leaders announced they will vote on a subpoena Tuesday for Dorsey, the Twitter CEO, to testify before the committee on Friday, Oct. 23. Meanwhile, Hawley invited Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to appear voluntarily before his Senate subcommittee.
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Twitter took major steps to stop the spread of the story, including locking the New York Post’s Twitter account Wednesday and suspending the official account of the Trump campaign for tweeting out a video on Joe Biden that cites the story.
Twitter said Wednesday the New York Post article was in violation of its “hacked materials policy.”
The company’s 2018 policy prohibits the distribution of content “obtained without authorization.” Twitter doesn’t want to incentivize hacking or circulating “possibly illegally obtained materials.”
“Commentary on or discussion about hacked materials, such as articles that cover them but do not include or link to the materials themselves, aren’t a violation of this policy,” Twitter said. “Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves.”
Users whose accounts were locked for tweeting out something in reference to the New York Post article could just delete the tweet in violation of the rules and then their Twitter privileges would be restored, the company said.
“Accounts that Tweet the materials or links to the materials referenced here may be required to delete those Tweets based on our policies on hacked materials and private and personal information,” a Twitter spokesperson said Thursday.