". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Congress Investigates Twitter’s Speech Suppression

February 9, 2023

According to a former Twitter executive, restrictions on speech facilitate more speech.

In his opening remarks Wednesday to the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, former Twitter global head of trust and safety Yoel Roth, said, “Unrestricted free speech, paradoxically, results in less speech, not more.” Following Elon Musk’s takeover of the social media giant in October 2022 and the subsequent release of the “Twitter Files,” evidence of the commitment of Roth and others at Twitter to restricting certain speech was exposed.

The House committee convened Wednesday for a hearing to examine Twitter’s role in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election. Following the hearing, committee member Congressman Pat Fallon (R-Texas) joined “Washington Watch” host Tony Perkins to discuss the revelations of the hearing. When asked by Perkins what was his key takeaway, Fallon observed, “I was struck by several things, one of which was I asked Yoel Roth if he felt that Twitter had been biased when he was employed there. And he said, no, they weren’t. I said, ‘Well, that’s interesting, because 99.7% of Twitter employees in the 2022 election cycle donated to [Democratic] candidates and only a tiny fraction of Republicans. So clearly there was an overall bias.”

Fallon continued, “But then I asked him if he was — did he hold a personal political bias? He denied that. And then we showed a quote where he compared Trump White House officials as Nazis. He compared them to Nazis — the most evil, monstrous folks on the planet that are responsible for 60 million people’s death. And I said, ‘A little bit hyperbolic?’ And he actually said, ‘Yes, it was.’ And … he apologized. It was incredible.”

Roth stated to the committee that going forward, transparency was needed. “Transparency is at the heart of this work, and it’s where I think Twitter — and all of social media — can and must do better,” Roth said.

However, some critics of Big Tech aren’t buying the notion that everything will become transparent without intervention. Perkins interviewed Scott Shepard, director of the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project about the revelations from Wednesday’s hearing. Shepard noted that Roth’s claim to neutrality was astonishing.

“I don’t know if he was under oath, but if he was under oath, his right hand should have burned off. I mean, [Roth] has made it very, very clear that during his time at Twitter as the head of their censorship department, he was on a mission to downplay and to eliminate what he considered ‘dangerous speech.’ Not false, not inaccurate, not hate speech, although in his case — in his view, anything that he disagreed with was hate speech. But ‘dangerous speech’ just means … taking positions that Yoel Roth personally disagreed with.”

Shepard also expressed concern about former Twitter deputy general counsel James Baker’s role in Twitter’s suppression.

“Remember that James Baker was an FBI operative before he went over to Twitter,” he pointed out. “And the idea that he wasn’t getting information and direction from his pals still at the FBI and confidential information are things that Congress should look into. And hopefully sooner rather than later, we’re going to have a non-corrupt Justice Department again. And then we can start criminal investigations, because if the government was colluding with Twitter to deny American civil rights in ways that a government couldn’t directly do — like abridging speech rights, and that’s a crime — then some people should go to jail.”

In reference to Twitter’s suppression of the Biden laptop story, former Twitter Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde told the House committee, “There is no easy way to run a global communications platform that satisfies business and revenue goals, individual customer expectations, local laws, and cultural norms — and get it right every time.”

With the new GOP majority Congress, hearings into Big Tech censorship and government collusion are likely to continue. As Fallon noted, “There’s really — literally — a new sheriff in town. And when you lie, you get a tangled web, right? And you can’t keep it straight.”

Jared Bridges is editor-in-chief of The Washington Stand.