Republican lawmakers are raising concerns that Twitter’s new Chief Executive Parag Agrawal may threaten conservative political speech on the social media platform.
Agrawal, Twitter’s former chief technology officer who was announced as CEO following Jack Dorsey’s decision to step down early Monday, has previously highlighted the perceived threat of online “misinformation,” calling to depart from free speech considerations in favor of other concerns in an interview with MIT Technology Review in November 2020.
“Our role is not to be bound by the First Amendment, but our role is to serve a healthy public conversation and our moves are reflective of things that we believe lead to a healthier public conversation,” Agrawal said. “The kinds of things that we do about this is, focus less on thinking about free speech, but thinking about how the times have changed.”
Republican lawmakers worry Agrawal may impose stricter content moderation policies and more aggressively censor conservative content.
“Based off his previous comments, it seems clear conservatives will continue to be silenced while actual calls for violence from our adversaries like Iran, China and the Taliban are offered a safe haven,” Rep. Lance Gooden, who co-chairs the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Lawmakers also drew attention to Agrawal’s previous tweets, including one in which he compared assumptions regarding the prevalence of Islamic extremism to assumptions that all white people are racist.
“If they are not gonna make a distinction between Muslims and extremists, then why should I distinguish between white people and racists,” Agrawal tweeted with quotation marks, though it is unclear who he was quoting.
“The choice of Twitter’s new CEO is extremely troubling and cements the company’s intent to silence opposing view points. Mr. Agrawal has called religion a pyramid scheme and questioned if all white people are racist,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn told the DCNF, referencing an Agrawal tweet from 2011. “These views are not normal — they are extremely radical.”
Agrawal has also expressed support for left-wing causes, posting a screenshot of his donation to the American Civil Liberties Union in their lawsuit against former President Donald Trump.
“It is no surprise the person being tapped to take over for Jack Dorsey as CEO of Twitter would have a warped sense of reality and a tendency to lean towards censorship, book banning and stoking racial tensions,” Nick Givas, director of communications for Rep. Ken Buck who serves with Gooden as co-chair of the Freedom from Big Tech Caucus, told the DCNF. “Parag Agrawal will just be more of the same. Until the American people see actual changes within Big Tech, and Rep. Buck’s antitrust measures and bills to help create competition are passed by Congress, a new executive officer at the company means nothing.”
Other Republicans weighed in on social media, expressing their concern over Agrawal’s ascension to CEO.
“A new tech robber baron who has even less respect for free speech than his predecessor,” Sen. Josh Hawley tweeted in response to Agrawal’s remarks in his interview with MIT Technology review.
“Didn’t think it could get much worse than Jack Dorsey,” the Twitter account of House Judiciary Republicans tweeted in response to Agrawal’s comments on white people. “But yikes.”
Twitter did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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