Today, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing regarding Twitter. This Republican-led committee held the hearing to question former Twitter executives about their choice to remove a New York Post article from the social media platform just ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The story was about President Biden’s son Hunter Biden’s laptop, which allegedly held documents regarding his Ukrainian business partners. Several GOP members of congress now allege that President Biden had contact with the business partners before the 2020 election.
Republican politicians are taking Twitter’s removal of the article as a symbol of a left-leaning bias on a corporate level at major social media companies. Notably, Yoel Roth, former head of Trust and Safety at Twitter, was among the former executives being questioned about the incident today. In a homophobic speech, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene accused Roth of sexualizing children on the platform.
Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, Yoel Roth was in charge of “Trust & Safety” at the company while child porn was all over the platform.
Is this why? pic.twitter.com/u2vUTq6nvw
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) February 8, 2023
Roth’s doctoral thesis at the University of Pennsylvania, titled “Gay Data”, did not actually argue for minors to have access to Grindr. Roth’s findings found that queer young adults simply wanted ways to find community online, especially if they did not feel secure in their identities at home. He advocated for a separate platform for minors to explore their sexuality, specifically, young queer boys and men who fell victim to predators on Grindr.
Right-leaning media personalities ran with the Tweet that Greene mentions in her speech, not explaining its rhetorical nature of the nature of Roth’s thesis. The thesis is entirely separate from the case that was intended to be discussed at today’s hearing.
— 3sidedstory 🇺🇲 (@3sidedstory) February 8, 2023
Elon Musk, the billionaire businessman and tech investor who purchased Twitter just a few months ago, is the originator of the belief that Yoel Roth is a pedophile. This is a homophobic trope that has been used to defame LGBTQ+ people for centuries, and is born out of the child sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church.
Elon insinuates that Yoel Roth is a pedophile then Chaya Raichik tweets about it and her replies are filled with violent death threats against Yoel. pic.twitter.com/tmEnLrM2ol
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) December 11, 2022
When Yoel Roth took the floor today, he explained how much the allegations affected not only his life, but the lives of his fellow LGBTQ+ Twitter employees. Roth is also Jewish, and explained that he quickly also became the target of antisemitic attacks.
Yoel Roth says that after Elon Musk spread homophobic nonsense about him, he was flooded with so much harassment that he had to sell his house and move pic.twitter.com/kPanEXMala
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2023
Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado also came down on Roth and accused him of illegally banning conservatives from Twitter solely for a difference in their beliefs. She even went as far as accusing Roth of colluding with the FBI.
Twitter shadow-banned millions of conservatives, including myself! They must be held accountable. pic.twitter.com/i5360gXPzl
— Rep. Lauren Boebert (@RepBoebert) February 8, 2023
The aggressive and personal speeches filled with misinformation sent shockwaves through Twitter.
Lauren Boebert never fails to outdo her own reputation as an unhinged moron.
— Ari Cohn (@AriCohn) February 8, 2023
Representative Robert Garcia of California apologized on the behalf of Greene’s “homophobic rant” and redirected the hearing to what it was intended to be about.
Freshman Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) condemns Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s (R-GA) “homophobic rant” in which she linked the presence of child sexual abuse material on Twitter to former Twitter executive Yoel Roth’s previous comments and research on gay teenagers. pic.twitter.com/iuKsPfRWAm
— The Recount (@therecount) February 8, 2023
After the hearing redirected to discuss the Hunter Biden article, Roth went on to explain Twitter’s decision to take down the article. Roth essentially explained that the article was taken down in an abundance of caution, and that the platform does regret its removal.
Former Twitter exec Yoel Roth explains that the Hunter Biden laptop stuff at first glance bore a lot of similarities to the 2016 Russia hack and dump operation pic.twitter.com/GK3uh73SE6
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 8, 2023
Roth went on to explain Twitter’s differing definitions of misinformation and disinformation.
Former head of Twitter Trust and Safety Yoel Roth on how "disinformation" and "misinformation" was assessed on Twitter. pic.twitter.com/3rR9axR1xX
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) February 8, 2023
The results of the hearing are to be determined.