Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert use Twitter hearing to complain about their own accounts

Conservative complaints about insufficient social media engagement spills into real-life hearing

John Bowden
Washington DC
Thursday 09 February 2023 21:29 GMT
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Two right-wing members of Congress turned one of their first moments in the House majority into a spectacle over the respective sizes of their Twitter audiences.

It happened on Wednesday, when the House Oversight Committee met to hear from former executives at Twitter about actions the company took during the 2020 election in response to a story about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert fumed about supposed shadow bans and censorship of conservatives, which Twitter executives have long denied ever occurred. Ms Greene, in particular, was so incensed that she ranted about how she would not let Twitter’s former head of safety, Yoel Roth, respond to her questions (thereby making it unclear why a hearing was necessary at all).

“You were censoring and wrongfully violating our First Amendment free speech rights. Guess what? None of you hold security clearances. None of you are elected and none of you represent 750,000 people like I do,” she said.

“You abused the power of a large corporation, big tec, to censor Americans — and you want to know something? Guess what — I’m so glad that you’re censored down. I’m so glad you’ve lost your jobs,” the congresswoman ranted at the assembled witnesses, who all left the company under various circumstances after Elon Musk took over as CEO.

Ms Boebert, meanwhile, used her question time to harrangue Mr Roth about whether he personally authorised the “shadowbanning” of her account, @LaurenBoebert; Mr Roth repeatedly stated that he did not, though Ms Boebert would insist otherwise while growing visibly emotional and claiming that “Twitter staff” had informed her “last night” that he had done so.

All in all, it was a chaotic mess that exemplified the tumultuous start of the 118th Congress, which took more than a dozen tries to elect a Speaker of the House and was widely mocked this week in the media and online after Ms Greene and others caused disruptions during the president’s State of the Union address.

Conservatives have long complained that Twitter was unfairly stifling the reach of their content, a complaint that has persisted into the tenure of new CEO Elon Musk, much to their annoyance and the utter amusement of their progressive rivals.

Mr Musk himself is known to have complained about this very issue in private meetings with Twitter employees upon taking control of the company; it was reported on Thursday that he told an engineer they were fired after the employee in question attempted to explain his falling engagement numbers.

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