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Cruz shreds Twitter CEO: 'You don’t get to pretend you’re not a publisher'

"Why then is Twitter right now putting purported warnings on virtually any statement about voter fraud?" – Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

Updated: November 17, 2020 - 3:11pm

Sen. Ted Cruz is not a fan of Twitter.

On Tuesday, Jack Dorsey, the bearded and nose-ringed CEO of the social media site, appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions. Cruz laid into him, asking Dorsey if Twitter is a publisher.

“Is Twitter a publisher? No, we are not. We distribute information,” Dorsey said.

Cruz then asked the CEO to define "publisher," and Dorsey said: “An entity that is publishing under editorial guidelines and decisions.”

The Texas Republican then said that Twitter then became a publisher – by Dorsey’s own definition – when it decided to censor The New York Post's series of stories on Hunter Biden last month, but allowed the distribution of President Trump’s leaked tax returns published by The New York Times.

“In the New York Times case, we interpreted it as reporting about the hacked materials,” Dorsey said.

But Dorsey said that the Post stories were blocked pursuant to a 2018 policy against disseminating hacked materials.

"We made a quick interpretation using no other evidence that the materials in the article were obtained through hacking, and according to our policy, we blocked them from being spread," Dorsey said in testimony before the committee. "Upon further consideration, we admitted this action was wrong and corrected it within 24 hours."

“So Mr. Dorsey, your ability is you have the power to force a media outlet – let’s be clear, The New York Post isn’t just some random guy tweeting,” Cruz said. “The New York Post has the fourth-highest circulation of any newspaper in America. The New York Post is over 200 years old, founded by Alexander Hamilton. And your position is that you can sit in Silicon Valley and demand the media, that you can tell them what stories they can publish and you can tell the American people what reporting they can hear.”

Cruz also battered Dorsey about Twitter’s voter fraud disclaimers.

“Mr. Dorsey, does voter fraud exist?” Cruz asked.

“I don’t know for certain,” Dorsey said.

“Are you an expert on voter fraud?” Cruz asked.

“No I am not,” Dorsey said.

“Well, why then is Twitter right now putting purported warnings on virtually any statement about voter fraud?” Cruz asked.

“We’re simply linking to broader conversations that people have more information,” Dorsey said.

“No you’re not. You’ve put up a page that says ‘voter fraud of any kind is exceedingly rare in the United States,'” said Cruz, holding up a printout of Twitter’s disclaimer. “That’s not linking to a broader conversation, that’s taking a disputed policy position, and you’re a publisher when you do that.”

“You’re entitled to take a policy position, but you don’t get to pretend you’re not a publisher and get a special benefit under Section 230 as a result,” he added.