Protest in Twitter hearing talked over by auctioneering Congressman

Rep. Billy Long, a Republican from Missouri, talked over a protest by activist Laura Loomer at Wednesday’s hearing on Twitter’s policies by pretending to run a live auction.


C-SPAN

Chaos broke out for a few minutes during Twitter 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.

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 bias in tech and journalism as well as the practices of abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.

Shortly afterward, Loomer took to Twitter to take credit for the interruption. “I did it for the millions of Conservatives who are being silenced by Big tech on social media,” she tweeted.

Loomer did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

The protest came as Republicans have criticized 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.

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Activist Laura Loomer shouts during Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s testimony Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.


C-SPAN

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, though 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.”

Laughter and applause erupted in the room.

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