Conspiracy Theorists Storm Capitol Hill Tech Hearings

Anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist Laura Loomer disrupts a House hearing on September 5, 2018. (Screenshot / YouTube via C-SPAN)

Right-wing “journalist” Laura Loomer was de-verified on Twitter in 2017 after she exploded in an unhinged anti-Muslim meltdown, which prompted her to compare the site to Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler. Today, she joined other conspiracy theorists—including Alex Jones—on Capitol Hill and made her presence felt at hearings featuring Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Allegations that Twitter and other major social media platforms have discriminated in the enforcement of their terms of service to target conservatives have for the past year been bubbling out of the conspiracy theory fever swamps of the internet—where right-wing activists have been subject to suspensions and bans as platforms move to combat misinformation—into the GOP mainline, where they have inspired Congressional hearings. Aside from a handful of anecdotal stories about terms of enforcement errors, no tangible evidence exists to prove that tech companies are actually doing what the conspiracy theorists—and now GOP members of Congress—have claimed.

Today, representatives from Facebook and Twitter were called to testify before the House and Senate about misinformation on the platform and the way enforcement is carried out. The hearings attracted a swarm of right-wing media figures who work in the conspiracy theory media market, including Infowars’ Jones, One America News’ Jack Posobiec, alt-right troll Chuck Johnson, and Gateway Pundit’s Cassandra Fairbanks. These conspiracy theorists did not go quietly.

Jones spent a brief moment lambasting CNN’s Oliver Darcy, whose reporting on Infowars’ de-platforming has led Jones and his colleagues to target him with a smear campaign alleging that Darcy is anti-American and working on behalf of the communist Chinese government.

When Twitter’s Dorsey exited the Capitol after the morning meeting, he faced a scrum of reporters intermingled with conspiracy theorists. As Dorsey entered his vehicle, Loomer yelled at him: “You unverified me and called me a white supremacist! I’m Jewish! You violated my First Amendment right.” Jones rambled about something to do with CIA and Barack Obama.

When Dorsey returned in the afternoon, he headed to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for a personal grilling from Republicans based on the unsubstantiated claim that his website is systemically censoring conservative voices. While Dorsey repeatedly denied that his site discriminates against conservatives, he received a second dose of Loomer’s antics.

About an hour after the afternoon session began, Loomer interrupted the House hearing by bellowing that President Trump must “help us before it’s too late because Jack Dorsey is trying to influence the election, to sway the election so that Democrats can steal the election.” Rep. Billy Long of Missouri began rattling off like an auctioneer while Capitol Police escorted Loomer out of the chamber.

But as HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg rightfully pointed out, while Rep. Long and his GOP colleagues may have enjoyed ridiculing Loomer, the conspiracy theories pushed by Loomer and her ilk are the basis of today’s largely pointless meetings.