Republican big tech critics celebrate announcement Jack Dorsey will step down from Twitter

Marsha Blackburn and Lauren Boebert are longtime critics of Twitter’s content policies

John Bowden
Monday 29 November 2021 21:37
Jack Dorsey Resigns as CEO of Twitter

Two GOP critics of Twitter and Facebook’s content policies celebrated the news on Monday that Jack Dorsey would step down from helming the social media company he founded in 2006.

Mr Dorsey made the announcement hours after news initially broke of his rumoured departure; the former Twitter CEO was replaced by Parag Agrawal, the company’s former chief technical officer. He added in a lengthy statement released on the platform that he would not stay on as chairman or a board member for an extended time.

The news drew few reactions from Democrats, who have been eager to see the company (and potentially more urgently, Facebook) do more to battle a wide range of problems on their platforms including hate speech, misinformation, and the effects the platforms have on underage users.

Two Republicans who have personally gone up against Mr Dorsey’s content moderation teams, however, were not shy about sharing their pleasure in seeing the Twitter founder depart his company.

Senator Marsha Blackburn, a Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, found herself in the crosshairs of the company’s efforts to fight divisive and inflammatory content in 2017 when it prevented her staff from paying to promote a video in which the senator claimed that she had “stopped the sale of baby body parts” by Planned Parenthood, which operates abortion clinics around the US.

The senator’s video referred to claims from a right-wing anti-abortion group that argued the abortion providers were facilitating the sale of human foetal tissue; in reality, some clinics were donating foetal tissue for research on diseases including HIV and Parkinson’s, and accepted reimbursements for the cost of the donations. It is illegal to sell human foetal tissue for profit in the US.

Twitter later reversed its decision, while Sen Blackburn claimed that the company was made up of “Silicon Valley elites” of “trying to impose their values on us”.

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert clashed with Twitter for a wholly different reason earlier this year when she took to the platform to cast doubt about the integrity of the 2020 election.

Referring to Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign against former President Donald Trump in 2016, she tweeted: “Hillary must be p***ed it took the DNC until 2020 to successfully rig an election.”

The tweet initially earned her a temporary lockout from her account, but the company once again reversed the decision and allowed the tweet to remain up, albeit with a “misleading” tag that prevents it from being shared or responded to.

The Independent has reached out to Twitter for comment on the lawmakers’ remarks.

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