Twitter’s acts to prevent the sharing of URL links to reports published by the New York Post triggered allegations of political censorship.
Social media honchos, including Twitter CEO and founder Jack Dorsey, testified on Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee over controversies involving their social media content moderation tactics. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai also testified. In the hot seat was Mr. Dorsey, who was called to explain allegations of censorship.
“Let’s talk about the last two weeks, in particular. As you know, I’ve long been concerned about Twitter’s pattern of censoring and silencing individual Americans with whom Twitter disagrees,” said U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) in one exchange with Mr. Dorsey broadcast by C-SPAN and shared over C-SPAN’s YouTube account. Senator Cruz then accused Twitter of making the “unilateral decision” to censor the New York Post by preventing users from sharing reports published by the Post about controversies involving Hunter Biden, a son of Democratic Party presidential nominee Joseph Biden. Senator Cruz also accused Twitter of preventing the Post from posting content through its own Twitter account. The Post has published a series of reports, alleging that the younger Mr. Biden attempted to profit from foreign business opportunities by promoting his close access to his father. One report alleged that the elder Mr. Biden would receive a ten percent set-aside from a Chinese business transaction.
Mr. Dorsey responded that Twitter’s actions stemmed from a policy against spreading information gained from hacked materials. The Post denies that its reports were based on hacked records. Instead, the Post has claimed that its reports were based on e-mails and files recovered by a computer repair shop from an abandoned laptop. Despite assurances by Mr. Dorsey that the censorship against the Post had ended, the Post claimed that sharing links to its reports had not been fully restored.
Just as Twitter demanded a say in what the New York Post shares on its social media platform, Twitter made the same demand to Progress New York, owner of the C’est Vrai app.
Twitter was also preventing the New York Post from sharing content from its own Twitter account until the Post deleted posts deemed objectionable by Twitter. Vis-à-vis the C’est Vrai app, Twitter had demanded a similar say in the content that could be shared.
During testimony, Mr. Dorsey alleged that Twitter made a determination that the Post‘s reports fell under its hack policy, raising concerns expressed by U.S. Senator Cruz, who asked if Twitter would censor news reports if Twitter could not determine the source of information.
Though Mr. Dorsey denied U.S. Senator Cruz’s accusation, social media giants have, indeed, become so powerful that they now have the power and discretion to censor news outlets, a dangerous social condition, since a major function of a robust and independent journalism industry is to serve as a check on power, particularly the Government and big businesses, including social media corporations. Now, social media corporations are demanding a say in the content produced and shared by news outlets.
For example, Twitter’s questionable use of its “policies” led last month to the suspension of one function of the C’est Vrai app, namely, the ability of the Web application to deliver programmable tweets over the Twitter service. The action by Twitter followed its demand to control the content of tweets delivered by the C’est Vrai app. Twitter objected to the use by the C’est Vrai app of Twitter handles of public officials in the content of tweets, a demand that Progress New York found unacceptable, because Government officials, once elected or appointed to office, become wholly unresponsive to public demands for relief. Progress New York was founded on the principle that Government officials need to be held to account for their failures, particularly those that result in the suffering of average people. It’s unknown if the irony was lost on Twitter that the tweet content it was objecting to being programmatically shared by the C’est Vrai app focused on the non-stop water and heat outages taking place at public housing developments, but it wouldn’t have mattered to Twitter, because Twitter appears to be determined to thwart the independent functions of journalism.
The C’est Vrai app is a multi-faceted, computer-assisted tool that provides research and information services to Progress New York. Progress New York is a fledgling journalism platform that depends on the C’est Vrai app for its plan to expand, its roots in fact-based reporting, and its ability to shine a line of the failure of leadership in Government and in business.
- EDITORIAL : Twitter is running a blackmail operation — cooperate or no traffic for you [The New York Post]
- Twitter censored the C’est Vrai app after the social media giant made an extortious demand to control tweet content [Progress New York]