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Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO, to testify before House panel on algorithms, content monitoring: GOP chair

August 25, 2018

Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey will testify on Capitol Hill next month concerning the company’s use of automated algorithms and its policies for monitoring user content, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said Friday.

“When decisions about data and content are made using opaque processes, the American people are right to raise concerns,” Rep. Greg Walden, Oregon Republican, said in a statement announcing the hearing.

“This committee intends to ask tough questions about how Twitter monitors and polices content, and we look forward to Mr. Dorsey being forthright and transparent regarding the complex processes behind the company’s algorithms and content judgement calls,” said Mr. Walden, a 10-term incumbent defending his seat in the November 2018 midterms.

Neither representatives for Twitter nor Mr. Dorsey immediately returned messages seeking comment.

Mr. Dorsey, 41, helped launched Twitter in 2006, putting him at the heart of the popular social media service from its humble beginnings to becoming President Trump’s preferred platform for attacking critics and announcing policy.

In-between using his Twitter account Friday to decry Attorney General Jeff Sessions and publicly declaring the cancelation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s previously scheduled trip to North Korea, Mr. Trump tweeted criticism directed toward unspecified social media companies he accused without evidence of “silencing millions of people.”

“Can’t do this even if it means we must continue to hear Fake News like CNN, whose ratings have suffered gravely. People have to figure out what is real, and what is not, without censorship!” Mr. Trump tweeted Friday without explaining further.

The president made similar remarks during a rally in West Virginia earlier this week, declaring to a crowd in Charleston that he was “standing up to social media censorship.”

“You can’t have censorship, you can’t pick one person and say, ‘We don’t like what he’s been saying, he’s out,’” said Mr. Trump . “So we’ll live with fake news, I mean I hate to say it. But we have no choice, because that’s by far the better alternative. You can’t have people saying censorship because you know what, it could turn around. It could be them next.”

Mr. Trump’s allegations of social media censorship came on the heels of companies including Twitter either suspending or banning Alex Jones, a right-wing media personality who interviewed the president and 2015 and claims to continue to be in touch with the White House.

“You now see him everywhere saying that the main thing is the censorship, the big issue is the suppression of millions of Americans, in his new tweets just yesterday and today. And so yes, we are talking to the president through different systems, and I’ll leave it at that,” Mr. Jones said during a broadcast Friday afternoon.

Twitter has previously faced scrutiny from lawmakers after Russian users exploited the platform by using automated bogus personas and automated bot accounts spread politically-charged disinformation and sow discord leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the company was slated to host representatives from competing companies including Facebook at its headquarters Friday to discuss plans aimed at defending the 2018 midterms foreign interference, BuzzFeed reported Thursday evening.

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