Twitter Inc TWTR CEO Jack Dorsey was among the tech CEOs in Washington on Wednesday to testify in front of the Senate about how they monitor and police political content on their platforms.
Washington Post Controversy: Twitter recently drew heat from conservative critics after the platform decided to limit the dissemination of a recent New York Post article alleging inappropriate meetings between Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings. The Post article cited email exchanges involving Hunter Biden allegedly found on a laptop provided by a computer-repair person.
Twitter blocked users from sharing the Post article on its platform, initially referencing the company’s policies against hacked materials. The company later said the Post article violated its rules against displaying private information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, without a person’s permission.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department sent a letter to the Senate Commerce Committee urging Congress to reduce social platforms’ immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Section 230 gives social media companies like Twitter the right to freely police content on their platforms to shield their companies from potential legal liability.
Dorsey Speaks: On Wednesday, Dorsey said Twitter’s biggest mistake in handling the Post story was not communicating clearly.
“Our team made a fast decision,” Dorsey said. “The enforcement action, however, of blocking URLs both in tweets and in DMs, in direct messages, we believe was incorrect.”
Dorsey also responded to criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz by arguing that Twitter does not have the power to influence elections.
“People have choice of other communication channels,” Dorsey said. “We have policies that are focused on making sure that more voices on the platform are possible.”
Benzinga’s Take: After harsh questioning of Dorsey and the other tech CEOs, the hearing ended with no clear understanding of a path forward in improving Section 230 or implementing new digital privacy or free speech laws.
Twitter shares were trading lower by 5.2% on the day following the conclusion of the testimony.
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