Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his company’s decision to label some of President Donald Trump’s tweets as “misinformation” while refusing to take similar action against Iran’s ayatollah for questioning the Holocaust.
Dorsey appeared in front of the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday along with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify on big tech’s censorship policies and how they are applied. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) hammered Dorsey over the perceived double-standard between how the platform treats Trump versus other world leaders.
Gardner began his line of questioning by putting Dorsey on the record stating that the Holocaust is a historical event and questioning it or suggesting it did not happen would amount to “misinformation.”
After Dorsey agreed that questioning the Holocaust would amount to “misinformation,” Gardner said, “I appreciate your answers on this, but they surprise me on this and probably a lot of other Coloradans and Americans. After all, because Iran’s ayatollah has done exactly this: Questioning the holocaust. And yet his tweets remain unflagged on Twitter’s platform.”
Gardner then contrasted Twitter’s treatment of Trump with Twitter’s treatment of the Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“I know we’ve established content moderation can have certain upsides like combatting terrorism, but Twitter has chosen to approach content moderation from the standpoint of combatting misinformation, as well. So it’s strange to me that you flag the tweets from the president but haven’t hidden the ayatollah’s tweets on Holocaust denial or calls to wipe Israel off the map,” Gardner said.
Dorsey defended his platform by saying that the misinformation in the ayatollah’s tweets did not fall under Twitter’s rules against misinformation, which are limited to “manipulated media, public health – specifically COVID – and civic integrity and election interference and voter suppression.”
Denying the Holocaust “is misleading information,” Dorsey said, “but we don’t have a policy against that type of misleading information.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defends not flagging tweets denying the Holocaust as misinformation, while flagging the president's tweetshttps://t.co/63qT3FSx8p pic.twitter.com/hkk9MgR3XA
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) October 28, 2020
Soon after the exchange, Iran’s ayatollah appeared to take a shot at Gardner’s line of questioning by tweeting a message again questioning whether the Holocaust happened.
“The next question to ask is: why is it a crime to raise doubts about the Holocaust? Why should anyone who writes about such doubts be imprisoned while insulting the Prophet (pbuh) is allowed?” the ayatollah said.
Earlier this year, Twitter began flagging some of Trump’s tweets for allegedly spreading misinformation about mail-in voting.
“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed,” Trump tweeted on May 26. “The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”
Twitter attached a warning label to the tweets claiming them to be misinformation and citing The Washington Post and CNN.
“On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud,” Twitter said.