As Republicans in the U.S. House held their first hearing on social media companies' content policies Wednesday, newly appointed Oversight Committee members Rep. Robert Garcia of California and New York's Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez worked to condemn anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry from their GOP colleagues. As a united front, Democrats painted the Republicans as staging a distracting and out-of-touch political stunt based on the party's conspiratorial thinking.
At the House Oversight and Accountability Committee hearing, Republicans grilled former Twitter executives over their decision to limit the spread of a story about President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, more than two years ago.
At the time, the New York Post had tried to tweet a story about the contents of a stolen laptop allegedly belonging to Hunter Biden, but Twitter's content moderation software prevented its spread.
Twitter's former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, testified there was confusion over handling the story amid increased emphasis on fighting misinformation.
Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked Roth, who is gay, by claiming he advocated for children to access the adult dating app Grindr.
"Let's talk about something a little bit further," Greene said. "It's amazing to Mr. Roth, as the head and trust and safety at Twitter, your ability —or should say inability — to remove child porn."
Then, Greene, out of nowhere, launched an unfounded personal attack on Roth.
"Now, here's something that disgusts me about you. In your doctoral dissertation titled 'Gay Data,' you argue that minors should have access to Grindr. An adult gay male hookup app. Minors? Really?" she said.
Elon Musk, Twitter's new CEO, baselessly accused Roth in December of supporting child sexualization. Musk posted an excerpt from Roth's doctoral dissertation, but he misinterpreted its contents and said, "Looks like Yoel is arguing in favor of children being able to access adult Internet services in his Ph.D. thesis."
"I just want to start off by just apologizing to our witnesses, particularly Mr. Roth, for just the homophobic rant and comments that were just made from the gentlelady from Georgia," Garcia said. "That was really shameful."
"We're here to talk about serious issues, and we're having conversations about Grindr and other issues, which is not really what this hearing is about."
Garcia noted that as a super-user of the platform, he admired what Twitter's creators endeavored to do with it, but that Musk's recent acquisition of the company has caused significant degradation in the quality of the experience.
Republicans spent more than six hours trying to extract admissions from former Twitter executives about what Republicans see as the social media company's bias against voices on the right.
As part of their newly reclaimed majority in the House, GOP officials pledged to fight social media companies for allegedly censoring conservatives.
However, to point out that Twitter seemingly endorses plenty of far-right speech, Ocasio-Cortez reminded the committee that one of the right's most notorious and hateful accounts is active on Twitter to this day.
"Mr. Roth, are you familiar with [Libs of TikTok]?" she asked.
He said that he was.
"Are you aware that from August 11 to August 16, that account posted false information about Boston's Children's Hospital, claiming that they were providing hysterectomies to children?"
Roth replied in the affirmative.
"And are you aware that this lie was then circulated by other prominent far-right influencers?" she asked.
Roth said he was aware.
"And are you aware that all these claims, which I have reiterated were false, culminated in real-life harassment and, ultimately, a bomb threat to the Boston Children's Hospital?"
"And this account is still on that platform today, isn't it?" she said. "Despite inspiring a bomb threat due to the right-wing incitement of violence against trans Americans in this country because they cannot let go of this obsession with fixating violence and inciting violence against trans and LGBTQ people in addition to immigrants, in addition to women of color."
Ocasio-Cortez concluded, "This is the party that cannot pick on somebody their own size. They are trying to co-opt an entire social media platform and use the power of this committee and of Congress in order to pursue a political agenda."
Later, the New York congresswoman took to Twitter to call out Republicans.
"Fascinating how after years of 'debate me!!!' cries, the moment Republicans won control of committee debates and hearings, they flopped spectacularly. They controlled the topic, time, witnesses, named their 'star' members, and STILL failed. What’s going to be their excuse now?" she wrote.
Garcia, who has made it his mission to troll Greene online, tweeted about her contribution to the day's hearing.
"In my Oversight Committee meeting today Marjorie Taylor Greene spent her time making homophobic attacks and talking about @grindr. I was like, ma’am…this is a Wendy’s," he wrote.
Watch coverage of the Oversight Committee hearing below.
House Oversight committee holds hearing with Twitter executives on Hunter Biden laptopwww.youtube.com