Washington (AFP) - Senate Republicans said Thursday they will subpoena Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey over the decision to block a news report critical of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
"This is election interference and we're 19 days out from an election," Senator Ted Cruz said, a day after the social network blocked links to the article by the New York Post alleging corruption by Biden in Ukraine.
Cruz said the Senate Judiciary Committee would vote next Tuesday to subpoena Dorsey to testify at the end of next week and "explain why Twitter is abusing their corporate power to silence the press."
"The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on," he said.
"Twitter and Facebook and big tech millionaires don't get to censor political speech and actively interfere in the election. That's what they are doing right now."
Republican Senator Josh Hawley announced separately that he had sent letters to Dorsey and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg asking them to appear before his Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.
The hearing will "consider potential campaign law violations" in support of Biden with the blocking of the article.
The Post's story purported to expose corrupt dealings by Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine.
The newspaper claimed that the former vice president, who was in charge of US policy toward Ukraine, took actions to help his son, who in 2014-2017 sat on the board of controversial Ukraine energy company Burisma.
But the newspaper's source for the information raised questions.
It cited records on a drive allegedly copied from a computer said to have been abandoned by Hunter Biden, that Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave to the Post.
The report also made claims about Joe Biden's actions in Ukraine which were contrary to the record.
Wary of "fake news" campaigns, both Facebook and Twitter said they took action out of caution over the article and its sourcing.
"This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation," said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.
The role of Giuliani, who has repeatedly advanced unproven and poorly sourced conspiracy theories about the Bidens and Ukraine, also raised flags.
The Biden campaign rejected the assertions of corruption in the report, but has not denied the veracity of the underlying materials, mostly emails between Hunter Biden and business partners.
Trump, who trails Biden in polls 19 days before the presidential election, blasted the two social media giants on Wednesday.
"So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of 'Smoking Gun' emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost," Trump posted on Twitter.