Congressional Representative Jody Hice (R-GA) and 18 fellow House Republicans sent a scorching letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey criticizing the hack that erupted across the platform in mid-July.
Hice and his colleagues wrote,“While I believe the perpetrators of this crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for their wrongdoings, we are additionally disturbed by the revelation of buttons labeled ‘SEARCH BLACKLIST’ and ‘TRENDS BLACKLIST’ within the leaked images of the purported Twitter toolset.”
High-profile accounts including Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and former president Barack Obama were allegedly compromised as a result of the incident. The hack got so bad that verified accounts across the platform had to be temporarily silenced to avoid having them share a cryptocurrency scam.
A blacklist would mean a certain topic or user which has been selected by the platform’s moderators to be either deboosted, shadowbanned, or perhaps banned altogether.
The letter compared Dorsey’s own political testimonies with his actual record of running the platform. Previously, Dorsey testified at a 2018 hearing, saying “Twitter does not use political ideology to make any decisions, whether related to ranking content on our service or how we enforce our rules.” The letter slammed Dorsey, observing that “you failed to report to committee members whether manual tools exist that may be used by your employees to shadow-ban or manipulate accounts or trending topics.”
Hice then issued a series of razor sharp questions. Some of these questions were:
- “What is the intent and use of manual tools ‘SEARCH BLACKLIST’ and ‘TRENDS BLACKLIST’?
- “What other manual tools does Twitter employ beyond ‘SEARCH BLACKLIST’ and ‘TRENDS BLACKLIST’?
- “Have these manual tools ever been used to shadow-ban accounts or manipulate for de-list trending topics on your platform?”
Hice was quoted in a press release about his open letter “It’s as simple as this: free speech cannot coexist with big tech censorship. Algorithms may be neutral, but employees carry biases. If Twitter employees are manipulating information and discussions on the platform – as many conservatives have long suspected – it is imperative that the public know that communication on the site is not as ‘free and open’ as Dorsey claims.”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) also promptly sent an open letter to Dorsey, demanding he “give the public an accounting of how much of their personal info you lost today.”