Twitter Quickly Changes Its Rules After Lawmakers Raise Questions of FEC Violations After Biden Bombshell Censorship

Brittany M. Hughes | October 16, 2020
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After several days of facing intense backlash for intentionally blocking the New York Post’s bombshell story about potential abuse of power by Joe Biden and his son, Hunter – and suspending the accounts of anyone who shared the link to it – Twitter now says they’re changing their policy to add “context” to stories with potentially hacked or stolen material rather than banning them outright, admitting their previously policy of blocking links to news articles was "wrong."

“Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix. Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a tweet Friday morning.

Dorsey linked to a tweet thread from Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety lead, Vijaya Gadde, who explained that the social media giant will no longer block links to news articles that include allegedly "hacked" material.

“We believe that labeling Tweets and empowering people to assess content for themselves better serves the public interest and public conversation. The Hacked Material Policy is being updated to reflect these new enforcement capabilities,” Gadde said.

“So, what’s changing? 1. We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them 2. We will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter.”

“All the other Twitter Rules will still apply to the posting of or linking to hacked materials, such as our rules against posting private information, synthetic and manipulated media, and non-consensual nudity,” she added.

The change comes after several lawmakers on Capitol Hill accused Twitter and Facebook, which admitted to intentionally suppressing the story from people’s newsfeeds, of interfering with the election and violating the freedom of the press by deliberately keeping the story from being seen by voters. Sen. Mike Lee called social media giants' decision a "stunning display of hypocrisy and favoritism."

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley (R) went so far as a to send a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) calling for the Commission to investigate Facebook and Twitter for potentially violating campaign finance law through an "active suppression of public speech."

Thousands of angry Twitter users also pointed out that Twitter had no problem allowing users to link to an article from the New York Times that contained President Trump's leaked tax records that weren't legally obtained and that were posted without the president's permission. Twitter has also in the past allowed links to stories based on anonymous sources, as well as articles containing personal information from the Trump campaign gathered under an illegally obtained FISA warrant that was based on the Steele dossier, which in turn included a potential Russian spy as a sub-source.

But while those stories and hoaxes were allowed to run rampant on Twitter even after many of them had been debunked, Twitter went all-out to suppress the Biden story, despite the fact that none of it has yet been proven false. 

During their censorship this week, Twitter suspended the accounts of multiple reporters and groups, including the Trump campaign, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and Newsbusters’ Curtis Houck, among many others, simply for sharing the link to the New York Post story. The article included emails taken from a laptop that reportedly belonged to Hunter Biden that appeared to show him using his connections to the White House – i.e., his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden – to further his business interests overseas. One email from 2017 appears to contradict Joe Biden’s claims that he “never talked about” Hunter’s overseas business dealings with his son, instead showing that the former vice president personally met with an advisor to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company on whose board Hunter sat to the tune of $50,000 a month, and which was about to be investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor whom Joe Biden later helped get fired.

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