Protest at Twitter hearing talked over by auctioneering congressman
"Five and a quarter, five and a half, I yield back."
Laura HautalaFormer Senior Writer
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2022 Eddie Award for a single article in consumer technology
Chaos broke out for a few minutes during
CEO Jack Dorsey's testimony Wednesday in the House Energy and Commerce Committee when a woman in the gallery began shouting. As Dorsey was telling Rep. Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, that Twitter wouldn't intentionally write bias into the company's algorithms for flagging and blocking accounts, a woman shouted her disagreement.
"Stop the bias, Jack Dorsey! Please help us, President Donald Trump!" she said.
Watch this: Audience protester ignites spontaneous auctioneering during House hearing
The woman appeared to be Laura Loomer, an activist who describes herself as a former "operative" of Project Veritas, a group that has secretly filmed tech workers, reporters and nonprofit workers as part of projects focused on alleged bias in tech and journalism. It has used similar techniques in projects on the practices of abortion providers.
Shortly afterward, Loomer took to Twitter to take credit for the interruption. "I did it for the millions of
who are being silenced by Big tech on social media," she tweeted.
Loomer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
The protest came amid Republicans criticism of Twitter and Facebook for perceived bias against conservative groups. Conservative lawmakers asked Dorsey multiple times about a Twitter algorithm that made some conservative representatives harder to find in the social media company's search results. Dorsey said the flaw affected 600,000 accounts and was unintentional, and added that Twitter has changed the algorithm.
The committee's chair, Rep. Greg Walden, ordered Loomer to sit down or be removed from the room. Loomer continued, and Rep. Billy Long began talking over her shouts with the calls of an auctioneer.
The faux auction lasted a full 40 seconds and appeared to reach a total price of $550. It wasn't clear what Long was pretending to sell.
As Loomer was led from the room, Long concluded his auctioneering by saying, "Five and a quarter, five and a half, I yield back."