Senate Committee on the Judiciary of the United States senate has approved subpoenas against Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding the censorship of anti-Biden stories on both the social media networks. Both of them will have to testify before the senate committee regarding the allegations of bias in their platforms.
The Republicans in the committee voted to approved the subpoenas in a 12-0 vote after both Facebook and Twitter censored a New York Post report alleging that Democrat Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden had introduced his father to a top official at a Ukrainian company. Biden was the vice president at that time.
In the report dated 14th October, the New York Post alleged that they have accessed material from a damaged Macbook that was brought to a service center for repair. The customer who brought the laptop never collected the laptop or paid for the services. The shop owner said he repeatedly tried to contact the client. Though he could not identify the owner as Hunter Biden, he said the laptop had Beau Biden Foundation’s sticker on it. The report had several documents and mention of a video that proves that Joe Biden met a businessman from Ukraine when he was Vice President of the United States.
NY Post had also published an accompanying article on the same date, which alleged that Hunter Biden had used his father’s status to increase his pay at Ukrainian energy company Burisma. This report was also censored by the social media giants.
Soon after the reports were published, both Facebook and Twitter moved swiftly to prevent its spread. Facebook decided to limit their distribution and added a notice that the report was subject to fact-checked by third party fact-checkers. Users could still share the reports on Facebook, but it could not be boosted using algorithm.
Twitter, on the hand, took a more drastic step and banned the reports from sharing on the platform altogether, and suspended the account of NY Post after the publication of the first report. They also suspended any user that tried to share the articles, inviting criticism of censorship.
Twelve Republicans in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary voted in favour of the subpoenas, while the outnumbered ten Democrats boycotted the voting, in protest against the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by the committee.
The committee has voted to compel Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg to testify on the allegation of suppression and censorship of the two reports published by New York Post. The motion for a subpoena also asks the CEOs to testify about “any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office” as well as other recent decisions to reduce distribution or block posts from their services.
Committee member senator Ted Cruz said that the censorship of the articles by Twitter and Facebook are election interface. “Never before have we seen active censorship of a major press publication with serious allegations of corruption of one of the two candidates for president,” he said.
Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai are already scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on October 28th on allegations of bias on their platforms.