A top House committee that oversees the U.S. telecommunications industry is now reviewing whether Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey lied to Congress during a hearing about Twitter’s controversial history of arbitrarily censoring content published by the site, an aide for the House Energy and Commerce committee told The Federalist.
“The committee is aware of Twitter’s actions and is currently reviewing Mr. Dorsey’s testimony,” the aide said after Twitter suddenly banned Jesse Kelly, a Marine combat veteran, writer, and popular radio talk show host, without explanation.
As The Federalist reported on Monday, Dorsey was not truthful about his or his company’s response to death threats against prominent conservatives — including against Meghan McCain shortly after the death of her father, former Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) — nor was he truthful about whether Twitter policies discriminated against users based on their politics. It is a federal crime to provide false testimony to Congress.
During testimony before the committee, which has broad authority to oversee and regulate telecommunications companies and social media publishers like Twitter, Dorsey repeatedly claimed that neither Twitter’s policies nor its algorithms took users’ political views into account when censoring content published by the site.
“I want to start by making something very clear,” Dorsey testified on September 5, 2018. “We don’t consider political viewpoints, perspectives, or party affiliation in any of our policies or enforcement decisions, period.”
“Our policies and our algorithms don’t take into consideration any affiliation, philosophy, or viewpoint,” Dorsey claimed again later in the hearing.
A review of Twitter’s so-called hateful conduct policy, however, shows that the company has explicitly codified political views into its policies. For example, the social media publisher states that it will ban users if they accurately refer to the biological sex of “transgendered” individuals who believe without evidence that biological men can become biological women, and vice versa.
“We prohibit targeting individuals with repeated slurs, tropes or other content that intends to dehumanize, degrade or reinforce negative or harmful stereotypes about a protected category,” Twitter’s policy states. “This includes targeted misgendering or deadnaming of transgender individuals.”
“Deadnaming” is the use of an individual’s name on his or her original birth certificate that generally corresponds with the individual’s immutable biological sex, and “misgendering” is the accurate reference to an individual’s biological sex. Contrary to Dorsey’s claim before Congress that Twitter’s content and user censorship policies don’t take political viewpoints into account, a policy that discriminates against those who convey indisputably accurate scientific and historical information is by its very nature exclusively political.
The House Energy and Commerce committee aide also told The Federalist that Twitter and Dorsey have also refused to even respond to numerous questions for the record posed by the committee following the hearing.
“Twitter has not yet provided responses to members’ questions for the record, despite an October 15th deadline,” the aide said. “It is important that Congress receive this requested information to ensure we are able to properly perform our oversight responsibilities.”
The aide suggested that Twitter had not been honest or transparent with Congress about the social media publisher’s policies regarding censorship of the social media publisher’s content and users.
“We believe Twitter and other tech companies should be forthright with Congress and the American people in an effort to shed light on often opaque rules and processes,” the aide noted. “Transparency and trust are essential components of our increasingly digital communication channels.”
Twitter did not respond to inquiries from The Federalist about whether Dorsey planned to amend his false testimony, why the company had refused to provide answers to questions for the record from the House Energy and Commerce committee, and why it banned Kelly from the site.