Jack Dorsey, former CEO of Twitter, previously testified under oath to Congress that his company does not censor conservatives.
Following the second installment of the “Twitter Files” that revealed the platform’s efforts to suppress prominent conservatives, a resurfaced September 2018 clip of Dorsey’s testimony to a congressional committee was asked point-blank whether Twitter “censors” its users.
“I want to read a few quotes about Twitter’s practices and I just want you to tell me if they’re true or not,” Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Penn., said. “Social media is being rigged to censor conservatives. Is that true of Twitter?”
“No,” Dorsey responded.
“Are you censoring people?” Doyle asked next.
“No,” Dorsey answered.
“Twitter’s shadow-banning prominent Republicans… is that true?” Doyle followed.
“No,” Dorsey said.
During the same hearing, then-Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, grilled Dorsey over his past claim that Democratic politicians, too, were affected by shadow-banning. When asked if he could identify which Democrats were affected, Dorsey refused to say, claiming it was for “protecting their privacy.”
“Can you personally vouch that statement is a true statement that there are Democrat politicians who, when you did the auto-search, they didn’t show up?” Barton asked.
“Yes,” Dorsey said.
When pressed what percentage of accounts affected were Democrats versus Republicans, Dorsey dodged from giving specifics but told Barton that the results were “not impartial.”
“Do you discriminate more on philosophy, like anti-conservative versus pro-liberal?” Barton asked.
“No, our policies and our algorithms don’t take into consideration any affiliation, philosophy or viewpoint,” Dorsey responded.
In a separate exchange with Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., Dorsey insisted the algorithm that led to the shadow-banning of multiple Republican lawmakers “was not written with that intention.”
Dorsey’s testimony appears to directly contradict reporting from The Free Press editor Bari Weiss, who was tapped by current Twitter owner Elon Musk to rummage through the “Twitter Files.”
“A new #TwitterFiles investigation reveals that teams of Twitter employees build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts or even trending topics—all in secret, without informing users,” Weiss began her thread Thursday.
She pointed to Stanford University’s Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a longstanding opponent of COVID groupthink during the pandemic who expressed opposition to lockdowns.
“Twitter secretly placed him on a ‘Trends Blacklist,’ which prevented his tweets from trending,” Weiss reported.
She reported that Fox News host Dan Bongino was placed on a “Search Blacklist” and Twitter had Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk on “Do Not Amplify.”
Weiss revealed that “shadow-banning,” a term described to secretly suppressing the presence of Twitter users without their knowledge, was referred to by Twitter executives and employees as “Visibility Filtering” or “VF.”
“‘Think about visibility filtering as being a way for us to suppress what people see to different levels. It’s a very powerful tool,’ one senior Twitter employee told us,” Weiss tweeted. “‘VF’ refers to Twitter’s control over user visibility. It used VF to block searches of individual users; to limit the scope of a particular tweet’s discoverability; to block select users’ posts from ever appearing on the ‘trending’ page; and from inclusion in hashtag searches. All without users’ knowledge.”
The independent journalist also reported that Libs of TikTok faced heightened scrutiny from a specific group referred to as the Site Integrity Policy, Policy Escalation Support (SIP-PES). The popular account was placed on a “Trends Blacklist” designated as “Do Not Take Action on User Without Consulting With SIP-PES.”
“The account—which Chaya Raichik began in November 2020 and now boasts over 1.4 million followers—was subjected to six suspensions in 2022 alone, Raichik says. Each time, Raichik was blocked from posting for as long as a week. Twitter repeatedly informed Raichik that she had been suspended for violating Twitter’s policy against ‘hateful conduct.’ But in an internal SIP-PES memo from October 2022, after her seventh suspension, the committee acknowledged that ‘LTT has not directly engaged in behavior violative of the Hateful Conduct policy,’” Weiss revealed.
The first installment of “The Twitter Files,” shared Friday by Substack writer Matt Taibbi, offered insight as to what led to Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 presidential election. At the time, Twitter alleged it was enforcing its “hacked materials” policy that banned the sharing of digitally stolen material on the platform despite any evidence that the laptop was hacked.
Taibbi reported that the decision to censor the Hunter Biden scandal was made at the highest levels at Twitter but without the knowledge of its then-CEO Jack Dorsey.
“‘They just freelanced it,’ is how one former employee characterized the decision. ‘Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold. But no one had the guts to reverse it,’” Taibbi wrote.
Taibbi then shared a screenshot of an exchange between Gadde, Roth and former Twitter spokesman Trenton Kennedy, who wrote, “I’m struggling to understand the policy basis for marking this as unsafe… “
“… can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” Twitter’s former VP of Global Comms Brandon Borrman similarly asked at the time, according to a separate screenshot shared by Taibbi.
Twitter’s former Deputy General Counsel Jim Baker replied, “I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked,” but added it was “reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted.”
It was later revealed that Baker had vetted the first batch of “Twitter Files” unbeknownst to Musk, which quickly led to Baker’s termination. It is unclear whether Baker’s involvement in vetting the “Twitter Files” led Taibbi to draw that conclusion and whether Baker omitted files that would have shown the federal government intervening in Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Taibbi initially reported: “Although several sources recalled hearing about a ‘general’ warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence – that I’ve seen – of any government involvement in the laptop story.”
Musk had been vocal about being transparent when it comes to Twitter’s past and present actions it takes when it comes to curating content on the platform, including censored content.
Twitter famously blocked its users from sharing the New York Post’s reporting of Hunter Biden’s laptop in tweets and in direct messages.
At the time, Twitter Safety alleged that the articles were in violation of its “hacked materials policy.” Twitter’s then-CEO Jack Dorsey admitted his company’s actions were a mistake.
Many critics believe the suppression of the Hunter Biden scandal by Big Tech and the media at large was enough to sway the election in favor of his father.