With the flimsiest of excuses, Twitter prevented its users from sharing, even privately, Post reporting that shows Hunter Biden monetized access to his father when Joe Biden was vice president — and its after-the-fact rationale was just as bogus.
Its supposed rules would ban most mainstream journalism in the Trump era. But it’s clear that weeks before the election, CEO Jack Dorsey is interested only in suppressing material embarrassing to the Democratic nominee.
Twitter moved fast Wednesday to keep users from sharing The Post’s story on the e-mail Hunter received from an executive from Burisma, the Ukrainian energy firm that paid him to the tune of $50,000 a month, thanking him for arranging a 2015 meeting with his dad. Its first excuse was the supposed “lack of authoritative reporting on the origins of the materials included in the article,” which might violate its “Hacked Materials Policy.”
Ridiculous. The Post piece recounted the origins of the data: A Delaware computer-repair shop passed on copies of a hard drive to the FBI and to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer months after the laptop was left there and never picked up. (The store’s agreement with customers allows it to take possession after 90 days.)
Some users who’d shared the story found their accounts locked for breaking Twitter rules against “distribution of hacked material,” including White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump campaign and The Post itself. “They essentially . . . said unless you delete a news story by the New York Post, I cannot regain access to my account,” McEnany told Fox News.
Neither Biden has claimed Hunter was hacked. And neither Biden has disputed the facts of the reporting. The Biden campaign has said only that a meeting with the executive, Vadym Pozharskyi, wasn’t on his “official” schedule, but conceded to Politico that it couldn’t deny any casual encounters.
Dorsey admitted Wednesday night that suppressing the story “with zero context as to why we’re blocking” was “unacceptable.”
Yet his new “context” was just as BS as before. Twitter still insisted — without evidence — the material went against its “Hacked Materials Policy” and went on to say that articles including “personal and private information — like e-mail addresses and phone numbers —” violate its rules.
That’s laughable. People angry at President Trump’s immigration policy tweeted out White House adviser Stephen Miller’s address, and protesters eventually gathered outside the building. Those tweets remain on the platform.
Nor did Twitter mention “personal” information — or ask The Post to redact it — when it first blocked the reporting.
Twitter claims its policy “prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization. We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials.”
But The New York Times obtained Trump’s tax returns — “possibly illegally,” since the paper refuses to say how it got them — and Twitter didn’t bat an eyelash. We guarantee the president didn’t authorize the release.
And “content obtained without authorization” describes vast amounts of reporting in the Trump era, in which highly promoted pieces are published using only anonymous sources, many in government. Heck, stories about the Pentagon Papers would be banned under Twitter’s supposed new rules.
The company clearly isn’t trying to suppress all investigative journalism. Just stories embarrassing to its preferred candidate.
On Thursday, it added to its block list a new Post story that revealed Hunter also merchandized his dad in China: In an e-mail, he wrote a Chinese tycoon “had sweetened the terms of an earlier, three-year consulting contract with CEFC that was to pay him $10 million annually ‘for introductions alone.’ ”
Biden’s campaign hasn’t been shy about how grateful it is. “I think Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false and they’re not true and glad to see social-media companies like Twitter taking responsibility to limit misinformation,” said the campaign’s top press secretary, Jamal Brown. “Twitter’s response to the actual article itself makes clear that these purported allegations are false.”
What circular reasoning! Twitter blocks it so it must be false. But the company isn’t saying the story is inaccurate — only that it agrees with Team Joe that no one should be reading anything damning to the Biden campaign. How cozy.
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