A Twitter executive appeared to punt after Republican Sen. Josh Hawley asked him Wednesday during a congressional testimony whether the company would be willing to submit to an independent political audit.
Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, evaded questions about whether the social media company is willing to subject itself to an independent audit. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Hawley of Missouri peppered the Twitter and Facebook Public Policy Director Neil Potts questions about the company’s supposed political bias during a Senate Judiciary hearing.
“Will you commit to a third-party audit of potential (political) bias within Twitter?” Hawley asked Monje Jr., who responded by reiterating that the company publishes a Twitter transparency report every six months. He invited the senator to view the report on Twitter’s homepage after the next one is published, but Monje Jr. refused to provide Hawley a straight answer on the subject.
“The notion that we would silence any political perspective is antithetical to our commitment to free expression,” said Monje, Jr. as he sought to beat back claims that Twitter employs so-called shadow bans against conservatives. Monje Jr. did not receive much of a reprieve from Cruz, who chairs the committee.
“Not only does big tech have the power to silence voices with which they disagree, but big tech likewise has the power to collate a person’s feed so they only receive the news that comports with their own political agenda,” Cruz said to kickoff the hearing, titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship And The Public Discourse.”
It’s been a busy two days for Potts, who was grilled Tuesday by lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee over Facebook’s handling of white supremacy content. He noted during Tuesday’s hearing that the company does not prohibit people from expressing their love for country and community, but it does not permit bigotry and hatred.
Conservatives meanwhile argue that Facebook and Twitter is targeting them because of their politics. President Donald Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr., for instance, was temporarily blocked in March from making public Facebook comments. Twitter claimed in March that it “mistakenly remove[d]” a tweet from The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis about Lisa Page’s congressional hearing.
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