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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

Nov 20, 2020 - Technology

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Misinformation flood control

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden will enter office with no fast fixes at hand to stem a tide of online misinformation that has shaped election-year politics and, unchecked, could undermine his presidency.

Where it stands: Election and coronavirus misinformation spreading widely on digital platforms has already done serious damage to the U.S., and it's bound to go into overdrive as the Biden administration starts enacting its agenda.

Nov 19, 2020 - Technology

Facebook says very few people actually see hate speech on its platform

Photo: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook said it took action on 22.1 million pieces of hate speech content to its platform globally last quarter and about 6.5 million pieces of hate speech content on Instagram. On both platforms, it says about 95% of that hate speech was proactively identified and stopped by artificial intelligence.

Details: In total, the company says that there are 10–11 views of hate speech for every 10,000 views of content uploaded to the site globally — or .1%. It calls this metric — how much problematic content it doesn't catch compared to how much is reported and removed — "prevalence."

5 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.