Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, calling for a comprehensive public audit of Twitter's past censorship practices.
Senator Hawley writes, "In recent years, Twitter has intervened in American discourse with an increasingly heavy hand, attempting to shape the information environment for overtly partisan reasons. Algorithms didn’t make those calls; employees did. And at this point, the American people deserve to know the truth about what went on at Twitter for years behind closed doors."
He continues, “A public audit like this will prove essential, as you start to rebuild a culture of free speech and open discourse at Twitter, to determining where exactly things went wrong on the platform and who is principally responsible.”
In April 2019, Senator Hawley sent a letter calling on former CEO Jack Dorsey to conduct a similar audit of Twitter's suspension policies.
Read the full text of the letter here or below:
Mr. Elon Musk
c/o Tesla Motors
13101 Harold Green Road
Austin, TX 78725
Dear Mr. Musk:
Congratulations on your acquisition of Twitter. Your commitment to free speech is rare in the world of social media, and I am hopeful you will indeed help Twitter become a platform that values and protects it.
There’s certainly a lot of work to be done. Twitter has largely evaded public accountability over the past several years. Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve sent a number of oversight inquiries to the company. These letters cover subjects as diverse as content moderation policies, viewpoint discrimination, suppression of content, and Twitter’s own security. Twitter, not surprisingly, has effectively ignored these requests.
But perhaps most importantly, all the way back in 2019 I sent a letter to Twitter urging the company to “conduct a third-party audit and release the results to the public, in full.”
Now you have the chance to make that kind of audit a reality. In recent years, Twitter has intervened in American discourse with an increasingly heavy hand, attempting to shape the information environment for overtly partisan reasons. Algorithms didn’t make those calls; employees did. And at this point, the American people deserve to know the truth about what went on at Twitter for years behind closed doors.
Some particularly salient questions to investigate in the audit include the following:
- Who was responsible for deliberately suppressing the New York Post’s now-vindicated reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop and business dealings?
- How many Twitter users have had their accounts suspended, and why?
- How many Twitter users have been shadowbanned, and why?
- Do Twitter’s shadowbanning and suspension patterns evince a consistent political bias?
- Have Twitter employees, since news of your acquisition of the platform became public, made changes to the platform or deleted records of their time at the service?
No doubt the results will be illuminating for all of us.