Recently, representatives of Facebook and Twitter testified before Congress. This subcommittee on the Constitution was specifically on the subject of censorship in technology, and Congressman Ted Cruz had some questions that made the social media giants pretty uncomfortable.
In the exchange, Cruz asks why this quote by Mother Theresa (now Saint Theresa of Calcutta), which reads “abortion is profoundly anti-woman” was taken down (the tweet was then restored after complaints were made).
— MarjorieDannenfelser (@marjoriesba) March 8, 2017
It is fairly remarkable that Mother Theresa is now deemed hate speech.
The senator asked “Do either of you agree with the proposition that Mother Theresa is issuing hate speech?” There was complete silence for six seconds as neither answered. Cruz asked again “Is this hate speech?” which was followed by another four seconds of silence before Carlos Monje Jr., Twitter’s director of public policy and philanthropy, redirected the question, saying that he wanted to take a step back and say that the tweet was from the Susan B. Anthony List, which is currently an advertiser in good standing on their platform.
Cruz didn’t let the question go.
“You’re very good at not answering questions,” Cruz responded. “Is this hate speech?”
“Every tweet has a context behind it,” Monje insisted.
“That’s a full tweet. There’s no more context. This is it,” Cruz replied.
“Um… I can tell you that we have actioned tweets on both sides of this debate,” Monje added.
In the end, neither the representative from Facebook nor Twitter was willing to answer the question. It is a strange world, indeed, when we can’t all agree that, at the very least, Saint Theresa of Calcutta doesn’t engage in hate speech.