Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday that his company’s censorship policies actually encourage free speech.
‘”All of our policies are focused on encouraging more speech,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey joined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the big tech companies’ regulation of social media content. The hearing, as described by Chairman Lindsey Graham, is intended to provide the senators with more information to evaluate Section 230, which grants platforms like Twitter and Facebook immunity from liability for third-party content.
“I don’t want the government to take over the job of telling America what tweets are legitimate and what are not. I don’t want the government deciding what content to take up and put down. I think we’re all in that category,” Graham said. “But when you have companies that have the power of governments and have far more power than traditional media outlets, something has to give.”
Dorsey continued to purport this idea that Twitter promotes free speech by claiming that removing or labeling content considered as abusive or misleading reassures users and allows them to trust Twitter to “express themselves.”
“What we saw and what the market told us was that people would not put up with abuse, harassment, and misleading information that would cause off-line harm and they would leave our service because of it,” Dorsey continued. “So, our intention is to create clear policy, clear enforcement that enables people to feel that they can express themselves on our service and ultimately trust it.”
While Dorsey claims that moderating content is merely “a business decision” based on what the people want, Twitter actively polices speech on its platform, and oftentimes only in one direction.
In October, Twitter locked the New York Post’s account following its publication of a bombshell story indicating Hunter Biden monetized foreign companies’ access to his father, Joe Biden, while the latter was vice president. Facebook also joined Twitter in censoring the New York Post’s bombshell story, informing users they would actively limit the story’s distribution.
While Dorsey claims that this was a rash decision by the platform based on its hacked materials policy, Twitter battled with the Post for weeks over unlocking their account and allowing them to tweet again. The account was finally unlocked after Twitter gave in just days before the election.
Twitter also censored multiple tweets from President Donald Trump during the election period, preventing users from engaging, commenting, retweeting, or even sharing links to some of the tweets due to a supposed violation of its Civic Integrity Policy. Other users discussing potential election fraud were also censored.
“We believe we have a responsibility to protect the integrity of those conversations from interference and manipulation,” the policy states.
Sen. Mike Lee noted that Twitter and Facebook’s fact-checking tactics are also in direct contradiction with free speech.
“The tag to me sounds a whole lot more like state-run media announcing the party line rather than a neutral company as it purports to be, running an open, online forum,” Lee said.