Newly-elected Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) declared that “Twitter was basically an FBI subsidiary before Elon Musk took it over.”
Johnson finally won the speaker’s gavel with no opposition from Republicans on Wednesday, as Slay News reported.
The new speaker won the House floor vote in the first round of balloting.
During a hearing on the Twitter Files in March, Johnson blasted the FBI’s deep influence on the social media platform’s censorship practices.
As Speaker of the House, Johnson will now be in a position to put forward measures aimed at curbing the censorship of American voices online.
He would also be able to block legislation that would make the problem worse, such as the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).
During the March hearing, which featured testimony from Twitter Files reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, Johnson said:
“The federal government, from Democrat members of Congress to intelligence agencies, including the FBI, used Twitter and other social media companies to censor Americans’ speech.
“If the alarm bells are not going off, then you’re not paying attention.
“The communication between Twitter and the FBI – it was content, it was pervasive.
“Twitter was basically an FBI subsidiary before Elon Musk took it over.”
“Twitter was engaged in open information sharing with the intelligence community, and now we know there were many intelligence agencies apparently involved in this.
“The FBI pressured Twitter to act on election-related tweets leading up to the 2022 election… and Twitter dutifully censored content.”
Johnson’s comments have garnered renewed attention on social media following his rise to the speakership.
The popular X account KanekoaTheGreat shared a video of Johnson’s comments on the platform.
The post got the attention of Musk, who shared the video, sending it viral.
Musk reposted and remarked that the matter is “Extremely concerning.”
Extremely concerning https://t.co/UBb6tysLWB
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2023
Musk’s concern comes amid a climate of increasing concerns about potential infringements on freedom of speech and privacy.
His repost and comment further amplify the question of social media platforms’ roles and responsibilities in handling the public’s rights to free speech and debate.