Twitter Punts After Being Asked Whether It Will Submit To An Independent Political Bias Audit

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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A Twitter executive appeared to punt after Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley asked him Wednesday during a congressional testimony whether the company would be willing to submit to an independent political audit.

Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, evaded questions about whether the social media company is willing to subject itself to an independent audit. Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Hawley peppered Twitter and Facebook Public Policy Director Neil Potts with questions about the company’s supposed political bias during a Senate Judiciary hearing.

“Will you commit to a third-party audit of potential (political) bias within Twitter?” Hawley asked Monje Jr., who responded by reiterating that the company publishes a Twitter transparency report every six months.

He invited the senator to view the report on Twitter’s homepage after the next one is published, but Monje Jr. did not provide Hawley a straight answer on the subject.

“The notion that we would silence any political perspective is antithetical to our commitment to free expression,” said Monje Jr. as he sought to fight claims that Twitter employs so-called shadow bans against conservatives.

Monje Jr. did not receive much of a reprieve from Cruz, who chairs the committee. (RELATED: Here’s What Facebook And Google Did Not Discuss During Hearing On White Nationalism)

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) questions U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a Senate foreign Relations Committee hearing on the State Department budget request in Washington, U.S. April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

“Not only does big tech have the power to silence voices with which they disagree, but big tech likewise has the power to collate a person’s feed so they only receive the news that comports with their own political agenda,” Cruz said to kick off the hearing, titled “Stifling Free Speech: Technological Censorship And The Public Discourse.”

It’s been a busy two days for Potts, whom lawmakers grilled Tuesday on the House Judiciary Committee over Facebook’s handling of white supremacy content. He noted during Tuesday’s hearing that the company does not prohibit people from expressing their love for country and community, but it does not permit bigotry and hatred.

Conservatives meanwhile argue Facebook and Twitter are targeting them because of their politics. President Donald Trump’s social media director Dan Scavino Jr., for instance, was temporarily blocked in March after making public Facebook comments. Twitter said in March it “mistakenly remove[d]” a tweet from The Federalist co-founder Sean Davis about Lisa Page’s congressional hearing.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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