Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify post-election U.S. Senate panel

Facebook CEO Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Dorsey to appear voluntarily before US Senate Judiciary Committee after both social networks blocked story about Joe Biden’s son

  • Twitter head Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee
  • Panel has voted to subpoena the two company officials to probe their moves to block stories from the New York Post
  • Post story made claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son
  • Story contained screenshots where Hunter Biden’s old email address and that of Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi were clearly shown 
  • Facebook reduced story reach noting its eligibility for third-party fact-checking
  • Twitter banned linking to the story entirely, but eventually reversed that decision

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said on Friday the chief executives of Twitter  and Facebook will testify before the panel on November 17 over their decision to block stories that made claims about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.

The Judiciary committee voted on Thursday to subpoena the two CEOs.

The executives will testify on allegations of anti-conservative bias, the committee said. 

The companies have come under heavy criticism from conservatives over their decision to flag two New York Post stories as spreading disinformation.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee next month

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will also be appearing voluntarily, though the committee

The companies have come under heavy criticism from conservatives over their decision to flag the Post stories as spreading disinformation and censor the story

The CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc will also testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28 about a key law protecting internet companies.

Republican President Donald Trump and many Republican lawmakers have continued to criticize tech companies for allegedly stifling conservative voices. 

Both hearings are aimed at discussing the issue. 

The hearings come just over a week after Dorsey apologized after Twitter blocked a story about Joe Biden and his dealings in Ukraine leading to accusations of censorship and election interference.  

Many say it demonstrates big tech’s bias towards the left, given the fact that many anti-Trump stories have been posted and shared online without intervention despite denials from the President or conservatives over the years.

Dorsey tweeted that his company’s actions had been ‘unacceptable’ and explained there had been a lack of communication surrounding Twitter’s decision which was ‘unacceptable’ but that he stood by the decision to block it. 

‘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,’ he said. 

He then linked to a statement from the company that said it was restricting the link because ‘personal and private information’ had been shared in the story. 

Hunter and Joe Biden. The Post story suggests that Joe, while VP, had a meeting with a Ukrainian businessman after being introduced to him by Hunter, eight months before pressuring Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the businessman

The Post story says that the former Vice President met with Ukrainian businessman Vadym Pozharskyi, as associate of his son Hunter, months before Biden would pressure Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Pozharskyi’s firm.  

Twitter claimed that they placed the restrictions on the articles as they contained personal information such as phone numbers, as well as information that had been hacked. 

‘The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules,’ the company stated. 

‘We also currently view materials included in the articles as violations of our Hacked Materials Policy.

‘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. 

‘Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves,’ it concluded.  

Facebook and Twitter were accused of ‘election interference’ for throttling the article. 

Facebook claimed it needed to be independently verified by fact-checkers before it could be shared on their platforms. 

The social network decided to ‘reduce distribution’ of the article until it has been verified by its own, third-party ‘fact checkers’.   

In an editorial, the New York Post also refuted the hacking claims, stating that the original story explains where the material came from. 

‘Our story explains where the info came from, and a Senate committee now confirms it also received the files from the same source’, it hit back. 

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