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Twitter Executives Testify

Actually, Day 2 is probably today because it kind of started yesterday when former Twitter executives testified before the House Oversight Committee. Republicans wanted to know why Twitter temporarily suppressed a New York Post story about Hunter Biden's laptop. The executives emphasized that the decision was made within the company and there was no request from the government to do so. They said that they were afraid that the Post's story might have been part of a Russian disinformation campaign and didn't want to publicize it until they knew more. They were trying to avoid a repeat of 2016, when Russian disinformation may have swayed the election.

Although the government never tried to suppress the Post's story, there were so many requests from the Trump administration to suppress tweets that the company built an entire database to keep track of them. The requests came from mutliple high-ranking political appointees, departments, offices, and agencies. Some were from staffers working for Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

One testy moment came when Twitter's former general counsel, James Baker, refused to answer some questions about staffers' interactions with federal agencies. He said that attorney-client privilege prevented him from answering the questions. Chairman James Comer (R-KY) informed him that he was overruled and had to answer the questions. Baker refused to back down and said that he doesn't have permission from his former client to disclose the information and so, no, he wasn't going to talk. Comer said he would deal with it after the hearing. In reality, all he can do is try to get the House to cite Baker for contempt of Congress and then ask AG Merrick Garland to prosecute Baker. If that happened, it would be up to Garland to make a decision.

One of the witnesses was Anika Collier Navaroli, a former Twitter employee. She said that Twitter had a policy banning tweets telling immigrants to go back to their country. But when Donald Trump told the four Democratic congresswomen in The Squad to "go back to the crime infested places from which they came" (which in three cases was the United States), Twitter dropped the policy to allow Trump's tweet. That is not exactly Twitter censoring conservatives. It is Twitter changing the rules to allow conservatives to spread hate.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), a member of the panel, later told reporters why she thought Republicans were even bringing up a decision make over 2 years ago by company executives. She thought it was to bully and harass witnesses so that in the future, tech executives would be scared to ban lies and disinformation for fear of Congress coming after them years later. Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX) had a different theory. He said the whole purpose of the hearing was to do get conservatives enraged so the members could do fundraising from them.

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) interrupted the questioning to ask why her personal account was suspended. Twitter already told her the answer long ago: She violated the rules about COVID-19 misinformation and was warned about it in writing multiple times and she just ignored all the warnings and kept posting misinformation. To make her point, she held up a piece of cardboard displaying one of the tweets that got her in trouble That'll teach 'em! (V)

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