Cruz Says He’s Using ‘Twitter Files’ as ’Road Map' to Investigate Other Big Tech Platforms

Cruz Says He’s Using ‘Twitter Files’ as ’Road Map' to Investigate Other Big Tech Platforms
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks during the confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson before the Senate Judiciary Committee on her nomination to be an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington on March 22, 2022. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said he’s using the recent “Twitter Files” exposé series as a “road map” for investigating instances of political bias and manipulation in other big tech platforms.

Cruz, who is the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced he is starting an “oversight investigation” into major social media and search engine companies and has sent a letter to TikTok, Twitter, Google, and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.

Appearing for an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity hours later, Cruz said, “We are going to take the Twitter files, we’re going to take what Elon Musk has made public and use that as a road map to go after Facebook, to go after Google, to go after YouTube, to go after TikTok, to go after all a Big Tech that is trying to silence conservatives.”

The “Twitter Files,” which were released in a series of tweet threads, provided details about how Twitter handled a variety of controversial content moderation decisions for the platform.

The file releases detailed how Twitter officials deviated from the platform’s stated policies to justify removing then-President Donald Trump, a Republican, from the platform. The files also detailed the role the FBI played in discrediting articles about Hunter Biden’s alleged abandoned laptop and its contents, as well as how Twitter officials struggled to justify removing such reporting from the platform under its “hacked materials policy.”
Another portion of the files revealed Twitter uses tools to lower the visibility of certain Twitter users, tweets, and topics of discussion. The files showed Twitter had blacklisting labels attached to various conservative political figures and accounts.
Another part of the Twitter Files series, released on Jan. 29, detailed how Twitter officials knew a social media dashboard tool called “Hamilton 68” consisted of a list of more than 600 Twitter accounts it claimed belonged to Russian bots. Those Twitter files revealed Twitter employees knew the list contained inaccurate entries that negatively implicated conservative Twitter users and pro-Trump accounts. Twitter officials who knew the list was making inaccurate claims about platform users did not speak up to denounce “Hamilton 68.”
Cruz said he recently spent more than half an hour on the phone with Musk to discuss what the new Twitter owner has found in the company’s records.

An In-Kind Political Donation

During the Fox News interview, Cruz indicated the politically slanted censorship actions like the ones Twitter took might be treated like a political donation.

“In the 2020 election, Big Tech went all in trying to defeat Donald Trump, trying to give what was in effect billions of dollars of an in-kind donation to Joe Biden, suppressing the Hunter Biden story even though it was true, because it would hurt the candidate they were supporting,” Cruz said.

Cruz said Musk’s decision to buy out Twitter and release the internal documents from that platform exposes the other social media sites to the same scrutiny.

“A member of the club wasn’t supposed to admit it, they were supposed to stand lockstep, arm-in-arm, and deny it, deny it, deny it,” Cruz said. “And now we have the evidence, we have the emails and it’s clear that when Democrats said to move, Big Tech said ‘how high?’ They jump on command.”

Cruz said he believes political censorship decisions by various tech companies represent “the single greatest threat to free and fair elections.”

Democrats Defend Private Companies

Similar investigative efforts are already underway in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. Last week, the House Oversight Committee questioned former Twitter officials Vijaya Gadde, James Baker, and Yoel Roth on their roles in some of the content moderation decisions described in the Twitter Files.

During that hearing, ranking member Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said “Twitter is a private media company. In America, private media companies can decide what to publish or how to curate content however they want.”

Raskin also noted that Twitter officials had already admitted fault for their decision to suppress the articles about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

“The professional conspiracy theorists who are heckling and haranguing this private company have already gotten exactly what they want—an apology,” Raskin said. “What more do they want and why does the U.S Congress have to be involved in this nonsense when we have serious work to do for the American people?”

Raskin said that while private media companies can generally decide to allow or remove whatever they want, they do have a responsibility to remove content “when the speech is deliberately calculated to produce imminent violence and chaos against the government.” Raskin said Twitter’s real mistake was not deciding to censor Trump and other conservatives, but rather its “deliberate indifference to Trump’s big lies and incitement.”

Democrats have insisted Trump’s challenges of the 2020 election results and calls for Congress not to certify those results amounted to an incitement to violence that culminated in the disruptions and violence seen at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Trump has defended against such claims, with his lawyers arguing he had sincere concerns about the credibility of the 2020 elections and pursued valid legal challenges and that he did not encourage violence on Jan. 6.
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