Science, Technology, and Social Media

What’s Acceptable On Social Media? Twitter’s Asking Conservatives For Input

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hosted dinners to pick the brains of conservative leaders including Grover Norquist about criticism over content policing or lack thereof, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Norquist, founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, told The WSJ he asked for help for two unnamed “prominent conservatives” who faced setbacks when placing pro-life ads on Twitter.

Dorsey held outreach dinners, one in Washington, D.C., in June and another in New York, to get feedback from conservatives, reported The WSJ.

Twitter came under fire from conservatives this summer when they accused the social media platform of “shadow banning” figures on the right including Republican congressman. Twitter executives eventually admitted the congressmen’s visibility had been limited because Twitter linked them to what the company calls “bad-faith actors.”

Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is one of the members of Congress who said he was shadow banned.

“When you search Matt Gaetz, you don’t get the account that is @MattGaetz which has 33,000 follower. You don’t get @RepMattGaetz, which has over 80,000 followers. Instead you get @NotMattGaetz, that’s what you get. I think @NotMattGaetz has fewer than 12 followers. But that’s what happens when you search for me,” Gaetz told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Dorsey answered questions from lawmakers at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing focusing on social media and foreign election meddling Sept. 5. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was also there.

Dorsey was grilled by Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed and admitted that it was within Twitter’s power to label bots, although it is harder for the social media platform to identify more sophisticated accounts. These fake accounts have been at the center of several election controversies including the 2017 Alabama Senate race that is still making headlines.

Dorsey has admitted that Twitter leans left in the past.

“We do not look at content with regards to political viewpoint or ideology,” Dorsey told CNN’s Brian Stelter in August. “I think we need to constantly show that we are not adding our own bias, which I fully admit is left, is more left-leaning.”

Like Twitter, Facebook has also reached out to conservatives after some public relations fails, reported The WSJ. Facebook has received advice from the Family Research Council and its president Tony Perkins, according to sources cited by The WSJ, as well as left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center.

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