U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) is reaching out to the Tesla CEO and likely future Twitter owner Elon Musk. Clearly, the U.S. Senate has not done or does not have enough leverage to do what it really wanted to do in the past regarding social media accountability.
In our estimation, this letter is a good faith attempt at hoping that when Musk finally gets the keys to Twitter should the deal successfully close, he will play ball. Musk won’t have any obligation to do much more than the current Twitter leadership already has done probably.
But perhaps he will be interested in having a more helpful dialogue with Senate Republicans and any congressmen who want more transparency within reason, from any party.
Senator Hawley tweeted his letter our asking some key questions, although Musk won’t be able to get him the information he wants immediately, should he choose to do so at all. Hawley tweeted at the top of his letter:
“Here’s an idea for @elonmusk. Open the books on who Twitter has shadow banned, who Twitter has suspended, who they’ve throttled, and who was responsible for the egregious censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop reporting. Make it all public”
Here’s an idea for @elonmusk. Open the books on who Twitter has shadow banned, who Twitter has suspended, who they’ve throttled, and who was responsible for the egregious censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop reporting. Make it all public pic.twitter.com/gbLaaUXuR4
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) April 26, 2022
The letter reads as follows:
“Dear Mr. Musk:
Congratulations on your acquisition of Twitter. Your commitment to free speech is rare in the world of social media, and I am hopeful you will indeed help Twitter become a platform that values and protects it.
There’s certainly a lot of work to be done. Twitter has largely evaded public accountability over the past several years. Since I’ve been in the Senate, I’ve sent a number of oversight inquiries to the company. These letters cover subjects as diverse as content moderation policies, viewpoint discrimination, suppression of content, and Twitter’s own security. Twitter, not surprisingly, has effectively ignored these requests.
But perhaps most importantly, all the way back in 2019 I sent a letter to Twitter urging the company to “conduct a third-party audit and release the results to the public, in full.” Now you have the chance to make that kind of audit a reality. In recent years, Twitter has intervened in American discourse with an increasingly heavy hand, attempting to shape the information environment for overtly partisan reasons. Algorithms didn’t make those calls; employees did. And at this point, the American people deserve to know the truth about what went on at Twitter for years behind closed doors. Some particularly salient questions to investigate in the audit include the following:
• Who was responsible for deliberately suppressing the New York Post’s now-vindicated reporting on Hunter
Biden’s laptop and business dealings?
• How many Twitter users have had their accounts suspended, and why?
• How many Twitter users have been shadowbanned, and why?
• Do Twitter’s shadowbanning and suspension patterns evince a consistent political bias?
• Have Twitter employees, since news of your acquisition of the platform became public, made changes to
the platform or deleted records of their time at the service?
A public audit like this will prove essential, as you start to rebuild a culture of free speech and open discourse at Twitter, to determining where exactly things went wrong on the platform and who is principally responsible.
No doubt the results will be illuminating for all of us.”
Hawley then added his signature after a “Sincerely” and that is that. We will stay tuned to see what type of further discourse comes of this, or if there are letters from Democrats with opposing type requests and anger about possible opinions that may offend them being allowed on Twitter that previously were not.
Earlier we reported that Musk appeared to give a hat tip to former President Trump’s “Truth Social”, which has been struggling to launch but could potentially pick up steam later on in the year.
Some may wonder if Musk is taking a jab at Trump, while others may see it as friendly support for a different app that intends to support more free speech as well. However, Trump’s site does use some artificial intelligence to censor things and there will be some questions and more users get on as to how fair and effective that system works.
As we reported earlier:
Town Hall reported that Howley previously reached out to former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey:
In 2019, for example, Hawley penned a letter to then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, calling for an audit of the company’s suspension policies.
The current CEO, Parag Agrawal, may or may not stay the CEO under a Musk-owned Twitter, but if he does leave he will get a nice payday.