Tech

Republicans want Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify at House antitrust hearing on Monday

Key Points
  • Republicans have called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify at the upcoming antitrust hearing featuring CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Democratic leadership on Wednesday.
  • The call follows tension between the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee and Democratic leaders of the over the hearing format.
  • Jordan describes Twitter as "a market leader in social media" and said the hearing "represents a significant and unique opportunity to explore these issues with respect to Twitter as part of the Committee's investigation."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey arrives at the "Tech for Good" Summit in Paris, France May 15, 2019.
Charles Platiau | Reuters

Republicans have called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify at Monday's antitrust hearing, which will feature the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

In a letter to Democratic leadership on Wednesday, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, wrote, "We believe there is bipartisan interest to hear from Twitter about its power in the marketplace, its role in moderating content on its platform, and the causes for its recent highly publicized security breaches," a likely reference to last week's hack that affected the accounts of major figures including former President Barack Obama. The letter was addressed to Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y.

The call follows ongoing tension between Jordan, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, and Democratic leaders over the format of the hearing. Jordan previously asked Nadler to hold the hearing in front of the full committee, rather than before the Antitrust Subcommittee, to allow participation from all members. In Wednesday's letter, Jordan said that Nadler has so far declined that request.

Jordan described Twitter as "a market leader in social media" and said the hearing "represents a significant and unique opportunity to explore these issues with respect to Twitter as part of the Committee's investigation."

But Twitter is much smaller than the four other companies already set to testify, making an antitrust argument against the company more challenging. Though size is not necessarily an indication of anticompetitive behavior in the U.S., Twitter holds far less of the social media market than Facebook. Last quarter, Twitter reported 166 million monetizable daily active users (mDAUs). Though it says that metric is not comparable to those for other platforms, it's far below the 1.73 billion daily active users (DAUs) Facebook reported last quarter.

Still, last week's hack demonstrated the amount of power Twitter wields by virtue of its elite userbase comprised of journalists, politicians and CEOs. Hackers were able to post fake messages soliciting cryptocurrency from the accounts of prominent people including former Vice President Joe Biden, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Conservatives, including Jordan, have argued that Twitter and other tech companies censor their voices through biased algorithms and inconsistent application of policies, which Twitter has denied. The company has recently become even more of a focus of conservative ire after it placed fact-check and warning labels over tweets by President Donald Trump it claimed had violated its policies. Shortly after, Trump announced an executive order calling for federal agencies to consider new rules around the legal shield that protects online platforms from liability for their moderation practices and users' posts.

A spokesperson for Nadler did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on the letter.

Jordan and Antitrust Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wrote Dorsey earlier this month asking for information on Twitter's content moderation processes, including its decisions to moderate tweets by Trump. Jordan said in the latest letter that Dorsey had yet to respond to that letter, which asked for materials by Wednesday.

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