Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey to testify before Senate? How Hunter Biden scandal put FB and Twitter in a fix
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on November 17 on matters pertaining to censorship by the social media platforms over a controversial New York Post report.
“The hearing will focus on the platforms’ censorship and suppression of New York Post articles and provide a valuable opportunity to review the companies’ handling of the 2020 election,” said a press statement from the Senate Judiciary.
On October 14, the New York Post published a report alleging that Hunter Biden introduced his father, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, to an executive at the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. However, the report’s findings were found disputable by other publications. As a result, Facebook and Twitter both took action to restrict the report from further being shared and spread.
Facebook restricted the story’s reach by reportedly saying it was eligible for third-party fact-checking. It placed restrictions on linking to the NY Post article, saying there were questions about its validity. “This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation,” said a Facebook spokesperson, Andy Stone as reported by The Guardian.
On the other front, Twitter reportedly banned the story, but eventually reversed that decision. As per The Guardian, Twitter said it was limiting the story’s spread due to questions over “the origins of the materials” included in the report. The NY Post article reportedly contained material purportedly taken from a computer that had been left by Hunter Biden at a Delaware computer repair shop in April 2019. However, later in a tweet, Dorsey stated that Twitter’s move to block the story’s URL originally was “not great.” Jack Dorsey wrote on October 15, “Our communication around our actions on the NYP article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable.”
Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable. https://t.co/v55vDVVlgt— jack (@jack) October 14, 2020
After the two social media giants took steps against the NYP article, they were flogged by figures on the political right who accused the companies of protecting Biden. The New York Post also blasted the companies reportedly saying they were trying to help Biden’s election candidature. Further, the publication claimed that no one had disputed the story’s veracity despite receiving criticism over the credibility of the report. “Facebook and Twitter are not media platforms. They’re propaganda machines,” it wrote in an editorial, as reported by The Guardian.
After the move of restricting NYP post came in mid-October by the social media giants, Republican senator Ted Cruz wrote a letter to Dorsey. He said as mentioned in The Guardian: “Twitter’s censorship of this story is quite hypocritical, given its willingness to allow users to share less-well-sourced reporting critical of other candidates.”
Now the US Senate Judiciary Committee has approved subpoenas on October 22 that will make the two CEOs testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28 about a key law protecting internet companies. The two CEOs will also testify before the panel on November 17 over their decision to block stories of NYP article about Joe and Hunter Biden.