Senate Republicans are demanding to hear in person from the chief executive officers ofFacebook Inc. andTwitter Inc. to discuss alleged censorship of political news, a sign of escalating tension over social media treatment of a New York Post article concerning Hunter Biden.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham and GOP Senator Ted Cruz told reporters Thursday morning that they will vote next Tuesday to subpoena Twitter’s Jack Dorsey to appear before the committee.
Earlier Thursday, Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, sentletters to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Dorsey inviting them to testify in Washington before the Nov. 3 election. Hawley later told reporters he would consider subpoenaing them if necessary.
Hawley claims the companies potentially violated campaign laws by suppressing a New York Post article accusing Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden of links to a Ukrainian executive. “As your company is no doubt aware, corporations are forbidden from contributing anything of value—financial or otherwise— to support the election of candidates for public office,” Hawley wrote.
The request to testify comes after Twitter and Facebook curbed the spread of the article Wednesday by placing restrictions on sharing the link and putting a warning notice before linking to the article amid uncertainty over the veracity of the report’s claims. The companies’ policies also both prohibit the posting of materials that have been hacked or leaked. Facebook and Twitter wereblasted by President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers who accused the companies of censorship.
Twitter and Facebook declined to comment.
The Post story Wednesday said emails purportedly from Hunter Biden show he introduced his father, then-Vice President Biden, to an executive at a Ukrainian energy firm. The paper claims the communication contradicts an assertion by Joe Biden that he hasn’t spoken to his son about his business dealings. But the email doesn’t detail the extent of the meeting or whether Biden spoke to his son about it. It also doesn’t say definitively whether Biden actually met the executive.
Facebook has warned that the U.S.’s foreign adversaries, including Russia, may seek to trick journalists into amplifying hacked or inaccurate content they want to spread ahead of an election. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, reiterated the point again Wednesday on Twitter, “given this morning’s news cycle.” He didn’t directly say whether this was why Facebook took action on the New York Post content.
Zuckerberg, Dorsey and Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google parent Alphabet Inc., are due to testify before another Senate committee in an Oct. 28 hearing focused on the liability shield for user content that their companies benefit from under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. They’re also due to discuss privacy.
The executives are appearing voluntarily, although the Senate Commerce panel voted to subpoena them if they didn’t testify.
Trump has threatened Section 230 in response to the platforms’ moves.
So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of “Smoking Gun” emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!Facebook makes editorial decision to limit distribution of story claiming to show ‘smoking gun’…Facebook made the decision to limit the distribution of a news article from the New York Post that claims to show ‘smoking gun’ emails related to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son.
cnbc.com12:09 AM · Oct 15, 2020
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