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Politics & Policy

Senate Hearing on Facebook, Twitter Delayed amid Opposition by Republicans: Report

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Twitter’s algorithms and content monitoring on Capitol Hill, September 5, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Update 12:50 p.m.A Republican staffer told National Review that the hearing itself was delayed because of a procedural issue, and that all Republican members of the Judiciary Committee were planning to vote on the subpoenas.

There are a “certain number of days of notice required before you can vote to issue a subpoena,” the staffer said. The potential subpoenas “were announced last Thursday, and that requires a full week before you can vote on it.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday delayed a vote to subpoena the heads of Facebook and Twitter after some Republicans on the committee expressed opposition to the move, Politico reported on Monday.

Republicans have slammed both social media platforms after they moved to block or reduce circulation of New York Post stories revealing emails and other documents from the alleged laptop of Hunter Biden. While a Facebook spokesman initially said the platform would “reduce distribution” of one of the stories pending a fact check, Twitter moved to censor the story entirely, citing its “hacked materials policy.” Twitter has locked the account of the New York Post, which has not tweeted a story since October 14.

“Big tech crossed a rubicon that they had previously not dreamed of crossing,” Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas) told reporters at a media event on Monday. “To the best of my knowledge, this marks the first time big tech has tried to censor” a major media organization, Cruz said, noting that the Post has the fourth-highest circulation of any newspaper in the U.S.

Judiciary Committee head Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), and members Cruz and Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), announced last week that the panel would subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey over allegations of censorship. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was also expected to testify.

However, the vote to subpoena the CEO’s was subsequently delayed until this coming Thursday. Some of the Republican committee members are not convinced of the necessity of the subpoenas, a Republican aide told Politico.

It is unclear which Republican senators are opposed to a vote. A committee spokesperson did not immediately clarify the matter to Politico.

The push for subpoenas comes roughly two weeks before the November elections. President Trump has lambasted tech companies in the past, including Twitter which has placed fact-check notices on some of his tweets.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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