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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said Twitter does not have the ability to influence elections because there are ample additional sources of information, in response to questioning from Republican Sen. Ted Cruz during a hearing Wednesday.

Between the lines: The claim is sure to stir irritation on both the right and left. Conservatives argue Twitter and Facebook's moderation decisions help Democrats, while liberals contend the platforms shy from effectively cracking down on misinformation to appease Republicans.

Driving the news: Dorsey is testifying remotely alongside Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the much-discussed law that allows tech platforms to moderate content and not be held legally liable for it.

Flashback: Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Zuckerberg said it was "crazy" to think Facebook could sway an election, before revelations emerged that foreign actors attempted to meddle in the election using Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Reality check: Cruz has been hammering Twitter for its decisions around limiting access to the New York Post's controversial coverage of Hunter Biden, and used his questioning time at the hearing to berate Dorsey. He also made clear prior to the hearing he was looking for a fight.

  • "Who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report?" Cruz asked Dorsey. Dorsey said when users sign up for Twitter, they agree to its terms of service.
  • Dorsey said Twitter does not influence elections because people have the choice of using other communications channels.

Go deeper

App rush: Talent over trash

Data: Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Amid the sea of pollution on social media, another class of apps is soaring in popularity: The creators are paid, putting a premium on talent instead of just noise.

The big picture: Creator-economy platforms like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans are built around content makers who are paid. It's a contrast to platforms like Facebook that are mostly powered by everyday users’ unpaid posts and interactions.

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 of its 5 first cases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's independent Oversight Board published its first set of decisions Thursday, overturning four of the five cases it chose to review out of 20,000 cases submitted.

Why it matters: The decision to go against Facebook's conclusions in four out of five instances gives legitimacy to the board, which is funded via a $130 million grant from Facebook.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook seeks a new head of U.S. public policy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook is looking externally for a new U.S. policy chief as it moves Kevin Martin, a Republican who now holds the job, to a different position, per a memo seen by Axios.

Between the lines: Facebook is moving on from the Trump era in which Republicans held most of the power in Washington and Facebook was particularly eager among tech companies to forge warm relations with GOP policymakers.