The Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Thursday to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, after both social media platforms reduced circulation of the New York Post‘s report on emails purportedly from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The move comes one week after the Post revealed a 2015 email from an adviser to Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings thanking Hunter Biden for the “opportunity” to meet then-vice president Joe Biden. Hunter Biden served on the Burisma board from 2014 to 2019, and Joe Biden headed the Obama administration’s Ukraine policy at the time.
Shortly following publication of the article, a Facebook spokesman announced that the platform would “reduce distribution” on its platform pending a fact-check. Twitter subsequently prevented users from uploading the article, citing its “hacked materials policy,” and locked the Post out of its account.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) announced last week that the Judiciary Committee would hold a vote to subpoena Dorsey and Zuckerberg over concerns of censorship. Republicans are hoping to summon both CEO’s to a Committee hearing before the November 3 elections, the Washington Examiner reported.
The attempts to tighten circulation of the Post‘s report appear to have failed. The article generated 2.59 million hits on both Facebook and Twitter, according to data from NewsWhip reported by Axios.
However, the attempt to suppress the story has drawn the ire of conservative Big Tech hawks, with Senators Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) prominent in calling for an overhaul of regulatory policies pertaining to tech companies. Hawley applauded the vote on Twitter on Thursday, noting that some Republicans on the Committee were initially hesitant to approve subpoenas.
24 hrs ago I was informed the Judiciary Committee would NOT vote on subpoenas and that multiple R’s didn’t want to vote yes. Today, unanimous. I applaud @LindseyGrahamSC for standing strong
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 22, 2020
“All Republicans voting yes. BIG victory that didn’t look possible even 24 hrs ago,” Hawley wrote. “24 hrs ago I was informed the Judiciary Committee would NOT vote on subpoenas and that multiple R’s didn’t want to vote yes. Today, unanimous. I applaud [Senator Lindsey Graham] for standing strong.”
Cruz told reporters at a media event on Monday that “Big tech crossed a rubicon that they had previously not dreamed of crossing…To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time big tech has tried to censor” a major media organization.