During a recent hearing of the House Oversight Committee, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) addressed some of the potentially serious problems of a GOP proposal to broadly restrict government personnel from communicating with private interests — like Twitter — about certain content, particularly on their sites.
The initiative originates with longstanding GOP outrage about the handling of certain reporting on alleged corruption involving the Bidens before the 2020 election. After major social media sites temporarily limited the spread of a particular link to some of that reporting from the generally conservative New York Post, the whole thing became a consistent issue, including all this time later, even though the information in substantive terms was barely even restricted. At a recent hearing, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) complained about government personnel supposedly fostering essentially baseless mistrust from Twitter for what became the Hunter Biden story. (Hunter is a son of the current president.)
Others have noted how implementing the Republican idea could limit opportunities for government workers to combat threats like foreign misinformation circulating online and domestic extremism, like what found such a consistent home on major social media platforms before the Capitol attack in 2021 by Trump’s supporters. Porter, in turn, noted how the plan of action could limit government scientists from sharing their findings — research conclusions that already help so many Americans make informed choices.
“Whether it’s the grocery store or online, having a marketplace of speech gives us more freedom to consider more free speech,” Porter observed amid a discussion of work like the nutritional information developed by government scientists about certain foods. “That is a great outcome for the American people. Mr. Chairman, this all brings me to one of my biggest concerns with today’s bill. The bill defines government officials contributing to disclaimers or other social media alerts as censorship… Disclaimers and alerts are the way for many government scientists to communicate facts and findings with the public. Calling factual disclaimers and alerts censorship really targets the specific way that scientists can share their findings.” She proposed an amendment to clarify an exception for scientists. Watch below: