Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is returning to the hot seat on Capitol Hill for the first time in more than two years. And the company’s political problems have only piled up since then.
The tech titan is expected to be on the defensive as Republicans increasingly criticize the social network for censoring them and showing a bias against conservatives, based on specious evidence. Dorsey is expected to say that all content decisions are made “without using political viewpoints, party affiliation, or political ideology,” according to prepared testimony shared with The Washington Post.
“Our Twitter Rules are not based on ideology or a particular set of beliefs,” Dorsey plans to say. “We believe strongly in being impartial, and we strive to enforce our Twitter Rules fairly.”
Less than two weeks ago, the company faced broad backlash from President Trump and his allies for taking unusual steps to limit the spread of New York Post articles about the alleged emails of Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s son. Dorsey ultimately apologized for taking the extreme step of blocking users from sharing the articles, and in a major reversal, changed a rule about hacked materials that resulted in the restrictions. Twitter is now allowing people to share the Post articles.
It’s also Dorsey’s first appearance since the company began taking a harder line on misinformation about the voting process and coronavirus. The policies have set the company on a collision course with President Trump, who has repeatedly broken the rules with tweets about the election and the pandemic. Twitter has at times labeled those posts or even shielded them from view with a gray box and prevented them from being retweeted.
Dorsey is known for his nontraditional style, which was on display in his first back-to-back appearances on Capitol Hill ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. He famously appeared then wearing a nose ring and no tie. On Wednesday, he appeared with a long beard.
His goal will be to keep the hearing focused on substantive policy issues as lawmakers weigh changes to Section 230, or a complete revocation.
Twitter is the only company appearing before the Senate Commerce Committee that is not currently under investigation for antitrust issues, as it is significantly smaller than Facebook and Google. Dorsey plans to emphasize that changes to Section 230 could have the biggest impact on smaller rivals like his company.
“Eroding the foundation of Section 230 could collapse how we communicate on the Internet, leaving only a small number of giant and well-funded technology companies,” he’s expected to say.
It’s likely that Twitter could face questions about privacy and security from Democrats, as Dorsey has not testified in front of lawmakers since a high-profile breach of its platform in July, which impacted the accounts of Biden and Barack Obama. Dorsey is expected to emphasize the company’s commitment to privacy.
“At Twitter, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right, not a privilege,” he is expected to say.