Josh Hawley Calls Out Twitter for Receiving Government Privileges
CNS News reported that Missouri Senator Josh Hawley sent Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey a letter on May 27, 2020 taking the company to task for “fact-checking” President Trump’s about mail-in ballots.
In a number of Tweets he made on May 27, Dorsey sustained that Trump’s comments regarding mail-ballots being filled with fraud “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot (only registered voters receive ballots),” Dorsey Tweeted. We’re updating the link on @realDonaldTrump’s tweet to make this more clear,” Dorsey continued.
Hawley noted that on Tuesday, “for the first time ever, Twitter branded the President’s tweets with a ‘fact check’ designed to encourage readers to believe that the President’s political speech was inaccurate.”
Hawley commented, “Twitter’s decision to editorialize regarding the content of political speech raises questions about why Twitter should continue receiving special status and special immunity from publisher liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.”
According to Section 230, companies that distribute user content are not treated as a publisher, like outlets such as New York Times or the Washington Post.
Hawley also called attention to the fact that Twitter failed to respond to the “outright lies and propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party,” which used social media to scapegoat American soldiers for starting the Wuhan virus pandemic.
Hawley is wanting Twitter to explain why companies which behave like publishers — namely editing President Trump’s tweets in the aforementioned case — should not receive publisher treatments.
Hawley said on Fox News’s Laura Ingraham on the night of May 27 that the “special deal” the government has granted to Twitter, Facebook and Google has enabled them to become as influential as they are:
“It’s not because of free-market competition but the lack of free-market competition, because the government has given them a special deal that Fox News doesn’t get and “The New York Times” doesn’t get — no traditional publisher gets.
They are free from liability, free from suit. They’ve got a special immunity. And here’s the thing. If they are going to act like regular publishers, and Twitter’s going to editorialize about the president of the United States, then they ought to be treated like a regular publisher, and that’s what my bill would do.”
Hawley believes social media platforms have been politicized for a while, censoring conservative views in a number of cases. In his view, Twitter’s decision to “fact-check” the president has “really elevated what they’re doing.”
“They are editorializing, they are censoring, they are making political judgments. And yet they’re claiming that, oh, no, no, no, we’re not like traditional media. We should be treated differently. We’re neutral. We don’t have any opinions, we just post other people’s opinions. It just isn’t true, Laura. And it’s time to start calling them out on it.”
Hawley declared that if social media companies want to editorialize in the way other media outlets do, “go right on ahead – you can do that, it’s a free country, they’re a free company, but they shouldn’t get a special deal from government because of it.”
Late on the night of May 27, Twitter CEO Dorsey tweeted, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally…This does not make us an ‘arbiter of truth.’ Our intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves. More transparency from us is critical so folks can clearly see the why behind our actions.”
Dorsey believes that Trump’s tweets about mail-in ballots being filled with fraud “may mislead people into thinking they don’t need to register to get a ballot (only registered voters receive ballots).”
“We’re updating the link on @realDonaldTrump’s tweet to make this more clear.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg informed Fox News on May 27 that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter “shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.”
In a series of tweets on May 27, President Trump vowed to take “big action” against Twitter:
“Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!”
Trump also added:
“Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservative voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen. We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that…happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!”
Hawley is correct to make noise about Big Tech.
Even if no legislative action is taken, the pressure may be enough to make these social media companies somewhat reconsider their policies.
Nonetheless, this highlights the importance of having an America First trifecta in the U.S congress in 2020 and beyond.
It is the only way to assure that America First policies are enacted.