During a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday meant to facilitate oversight of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — who leads that committee in this Congress — accused witness Lina Khan, who chairs that commission, of unfairly harassing Twitter.
Since the takeover at Twitter by billionaire Elon Musk, right-wingers have taken a special interest in the site, as exemplified by Tucker Carlson’s decision after being pushed out of Fox News to start a new series of video presentations hosted on the platform. And when Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, was trying to announce a campaign for the Republican presidential nomination this time around, where did he turn? Twitter, though there were technical difficulties in the audio stream he was trying to use.
“Twitter has a history of lax security and privacy policies,” Khan noted to Jordan, refuting the notion there’s been harassment indicative of some unique targeting.
“It was found that Twitter’s lax privacy policies allowed unauthorized users to co-opt Twitter accounts, including that of Fox News,” Khan explained after Jordan reiterated his line of questioning. “Subsequently, Twitter voluntarily entered into a consent order with the FTC.” That arrangement significantly predated Musk.
Jordan cut in — again — to ask about specific requests that federal communication authorities had made of Twitter, alleging that there was an extra reason for alarm because the journalists whose identifying information the feds had ostensibly sought included individuals involved in spreading awareness about supposed roles by the government in past censorship efforts. Republicans have consistently been accused of dramatically misrepresenting the nature of what the past relationship between these social media companies and the government was actually like. In one example case, there is actually no apparent evidence the government compelled any social media company to take action against reporting on Hunter Biden, though Trump’s argued otherwise.
“Congressman, the consent decree that we have prohibits Twitter from sharing personal information with third parties,” Khan calmly explained. In other words, the government didn’t seek information on those journalists connected to the so-called Twitter files because the day ended in “y.” Rather, there were evident concerns of violations of the agreement into which Twitter and the government had entered, though Khan separately noted the importance of ensuring the independence of journalists under the Constitution.
Check out the hearing below: