(Headline USA) The House Oversight Committee held its first hearing on Big Tech censorship on Wednesday, grilling Twitter executives on the “collusion” between the FBI and the social media company during the 2020 election cycle.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., laid out the goals for the hearing during his opening remarks.
“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,” he said. “We owe it to the American people to provide answers about this collusion to censor information about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business schemes.”
Comer pointed out that in the months leading up to the 2020 election, Twitter officials were in lockstep with the FBI regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story, which was eventually banned from circulation on the social media platform. Twitter even suspended the New York Post’s account.
“The FBI advised senior Twitter executives to question the validity of any Hunter Biden story. We also know that one of the witnesses before us today participated in an Aspen Institute exercise in September 2020 on a potential ‘hack and dump’ operation relating to Hunter Biden,” Comer said.
During the hearing, Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal, policy and trust at Twitter, admitted that the company’s decision to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story had a massive “impact” on free speech and the free press.
“It became clear that Twitter had not fully appreciated the impact of that policy on free press … In hindsight, Twitter should have reinstated the Post account immediately,” she said.
Former Twitter executive Yoel Roth, who was fired by Elon Musk, attempted to defend the company’s censorship, arguing that Hunter Biden’s laptop looked like a “Russian hack-and-dump.”
Twitter’s executives also tried to defend its decision to ban former President Donald Trump from the platform.
“The former president said he liked to send out his tweets like little missiles. To me, that sounded like weaponization of a platform in his own words and yet Twitter was not concerned,” former Twitter official Anika Navaroli told the committee.