Before Dorsey even opened his mouth on Wednesday, the meme-makers had already got to work. Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Dorsey appeared with a long, disheveled beard, a look that left many on social media scratching their heads and instantly pouncing.
“I can’t believe they made Ben Gunn the head of Twitter,” conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted, in reference to a character from ‘Treasure Island’ marooned on an island for years.
I can't believe they made Ben Gunn the head of Twitter pic.twitter.com/tTeSywT2e0
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) October 28, 2020
“Okay, ban twitter,” writer Stephen Miller joked, adding a photo of the bearded Dorsey.
— Taylor Hatmaker (@tayhatmaker) October 28, 2020
Jack is going to lose control of Twitter just because the public will look at him and listen to him and determine at a gut level that nobody like that should run anything more important than a record store.
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) October 28, 2020
Dorsey was the target of much of the criticism from senators during the hearing, with Republicans specifically questioning him on Twitter’s censorship standards, in light of the company’s recent flagging of tweets from President Donald Trump, as well as the platform’s decision to lock the New York Post out of its account after tweeting a bombshell story on Joe Biden’s son, Hunter.
Dorsey clashed with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) over the Post, giving answers that left critics asking even more questions. A fiery Cruz accused Dorsey of acting like a “Democratic Super PAC” in deciding what media reports people are allowed to read.
Further confusing viewers was Dorsey’s admission at one point that Holocaust denial tweets do not violate the platform’s “misinformation” policy, a policy President Trump has been in violation of multiple times.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) asked specifically about tweets from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei questioning the Holocaust and asked why they remained up while Trump himself has been censored.
This is astonishing: Jack Dorsey says that Holocaust denial is not “misinformation” according to Twitter policy. pic.twitter.com/GhVn3u9ow8
— Alexander Nazaryan (@alexnazaryan) October 28, 2020
“We don’t have a policy against misinformation. We have a policy against misinformation in three categories, which are manipulated media, public health – specifically Covid – and civic integrity, election interference, and voter suppression. That is all we have a policy on for misleading information,” Dorsey said.
The long-winded answer only further angered people already frustrated with Twitter’s censorship in general, as the standards remain unexplained and questionable to critics.
— Bari Weiss (@bariweiss) October 28, 2020
Far-left Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey refuses to take action against promoting anti-Semitic Holocaust denial conspiracy theories https://t.co/X6zdMudfj4
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 28, 2020
Dorsey faced a different kind of scrutiny entirely from the Democrats, as some essentially called for more censorship and policing of posts from social media companies.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts), for instance, told the committee and tech leaders that “the issue is not that the companies before us today is that they’re taking too many posts down. The issue is that they’re leaving too many dangerous posts up.”
Democratic Senator demands that Silicon Valley giants censor more material, information and views to prevent it from reaching the public.
This is the mentality of authoritarianism: state officials demanding corporations censor more political speech they dislike: https://t.co/L2mn8g7haE
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 28, 2020
Asked about censorship of the Post’s account, Dorsey said the paper will only be permitted to tweet again if they delete their original tweets on the Hunter Biden story. Once they do that, they can repost the same material and it won’t be censored, the CEO said, confirming Twitter has amended their policy to avoid similar situations in the future.
The answer was not satisfactory with the platform’s critics.
“This level of idiocy confirms the widespread impression that Jack’s primary food source is weed,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) said of Dorsey’s answer.
This level of idiocy confirms the widespread impression that Jack’s primary food source is weed https://t.co/EREVsyKLty
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 28, 2020
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