Former Twitter officials denied claims the U.S. government and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign were involved in the social network’s controversial, short-lived decision to block users from sharing a New York Post story about Biden’s son Hunter just weeks before the 2020 election.
At a contentious House Oversight Committee hearing on Wednesday lasting more than six hours, Republicans accused the social media company of colluding with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Biden campaign to censor the Post story and aired long-held grievances over what they say is Silicon Valley’s bias against conservatives.
“Twitter, under the leadership of our witnesses today, was a private company the federal government used to accomplish what it constitutionally cannot: limit the free exercise of speech,” committee Chair James Comer, R-Ky., said in his opening remarks.
“Immediately following the story’s publication, America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news and the intelligence community to suppress and delegitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents,” he said.
The former Twitter officials acknowledged the Post story, based on material from Hunter Biden’s laptop, was the subject of fraught debate and confusion inside the company. Ultimately, they said, Twitter concluded it had made the wrong call by blocking it — something Twitter’s CEO at the time, Jack Dorsey, said back in late 2020.
“I believe Twitter erred in this case because we wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2016,” Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, told the panel, alluding to Russia’s hacking of Democratic National Committee emails that year that were selectively leaked to the public in the final months of the campaign.
But Roth and his fellow panelists denied that decision involved government agencies or Biden’s campaign.