Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio pressed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan at a Thursday hearing on her investigations of Twitter since billionaire Elon Musk took over the company in October.
Jordan accused Kahn of harassing Twitter due to Democrat pressure but the FTC chair emphasized the agency’s independence at the House Judiciary Committee hearing. The FTC has issued more than 350 requests for information from Twitter since Musk assumed control of the company, including the social media company’s work with journalists, Jordan asserted.
“You’ve asked for every single communication relating to Elon Musk, not communications that he just sent to someone or communications he received, but any time he’s mentioned,” Jordan said. “More than harassment, that seems like almost an obsession.”
Jordan also said the FTC requested the identity of all the journalists and media Twitter granted access to since Musk purchased the company. “You wanna know the name of every journalist a private company has talked to?” Jordan asked. “You think that’s consistent with the First Amendment?”
Kahn responded that she used to be a journalist and “take[s] extremely seriously the valuable work they do.”
Jordan said the government asking questions like this is a “threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press,” adding the context was “particularly troubling” as it was related to information about government suppression of speech that journalists were publishing, referencing the Twitter Files.
The Twitter Files were internal company documents journalists published revealing government intervention in content moderation on the platform such as censoring certain COVID-19 narratives. Former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he was “surprised” by how much the government engaged with Twitter to censor content.
“Is your attack on Twitter, harassment of Twitter, is that based on the fact that all kinds of Democrats have asked you to do this?”
“We make only independent determinations about whether there were law violations,” Kahn answered.
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