On January 17th, 2018 during a Senate Committee hearing, Texas Senator Ted Cruz questioned representatives from social media giants YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter about political bias on their platforms. In one exchange, Cruz probed Twitter Public Policy Director Carlos Monje about political targeting and censorship on the Twitter platform, citing Project Veritas’ undercover videos.
“There were several videos that were released in recent weeks that I and a lot of other people, find highly troubling.“
Senator Cruz went on to directly quote the bombshell video investigation that proved that Twitter is targeting and suppressing the visibility of users who tweet political ideas that they don’t like. Project Veritas’ James O’Keefe reiterated a Twitter engineer’s words in a tweet, explaining which terms are targeted by Twitter’s algorithms.
Looks like thousands of Twitter users committed the thought crime of tweeting about “God,” “the American flag,” and “guns,” and were taken off the platform. Our undercover reporting into Twitter showed those terms indicate to engineers you are “for sure a bot.” #TwitterLockOut pic.twitter.com/hI88iUEcCD
— James O’Keefe (@JamesOKeefeIII) February 21, 2018
Twitter PR issued statements saying that the company does not “shadow ban” users, directly contradicting what their own employees were caught on camera saying. In the hearing, Twitter’s Monje echoed the PR statement but failed to address whether or not Twitter enforces censorial practices without political bias.
Cruz continued his line of inquiry by quoting more statements made by Twitter engineers from the video investigation, and Monje again fails to affirmatively deny that the company applies its rules without political bias. Monje says that only Twitter users who are bots or act abusively are censored. Cruz then asks,
“Is it your position that the individuals that are subject to this form of censorship are extremist or fringe?”
In closing, Cruz stated that the “pattern of political censorship we’re seeing across the technology companies is highly concerning.”
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