When Republican lawmakers took over the House of Representatives late last year, they made immediately clear their intent to hold up alleged tech censorship of conservatives as a top 2023 issue. They kicked off what’s looking like a long year’s worth of hearings and investigations into tech companies this week by zeroing in on Twitter’s October 20220 decision to limit the reach of a New York Post story detailing the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop.
House Republicans used the hearing as a platform to pummel former Twitter executives over their handling of the story and beat down Joe Biden’s family with accusations of corruption and scandal. Though ostensibly focused on Hunter Biden’s laptop, the hearing quickly took a turn as Republicans lashed out at the former representatives for roles they may have had in suppressing or banning conservative accounts found to have repeatedly violated the company’s terms. Democrats, on the other hand, repeatedly whined that the hearing was a “waste of time,” and often tried to steer the conversation away from Biden and towards former president Donald Trump and the January 6 attacks on the capitol. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene smeared Twitter’s former safety head as a pedophile. The power went out. The public learned Trump tried to get a mean tweet from Chrissy Teigen removed. A Louisiana congressman threatened to jail a witness.
Aside from a handful of interesting, good faith exchanges between lawmakers and the former Twitter employees acknowledging the complex speech tradeoffs needed to effectively run a large social media platform, the majority of the hearing was a poorly run mess of grandstanding, bloviating, straight up lies, and overall dysfunction. Here are just a few of the most bizarre moments.