Facebook and Twitter put measures in place Wednesday to limit distribution of a New York Post story based on emails — which the paper claimed were supplied by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani — purportedly revealing influence-peddling by Joe Biden’s son Hunter.
According to the Post’s story, Hunter Biden in 2015 introduced his father, then VP in the Obama administration, to a top exec at Ukrainian energy company Burisma after Hunter joined the company’s board. The insinuation is that Hunter successfully influenced his father to pressure Ukraine government officials “into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company,” per the Post.
The Biden campaign said in a statement that after reviewing the then-VP’s official schedules from the time no such meeting ever took place and reiterated its claims that Biden engaged in no wrongdoing vis-a-vis conducting U.S. foreign policy in Ukraine.
Facebook on Wednesday identified the Post story as potential misinformation and said it was limiting distribution of the article on its platform. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said on Twitter the Post story was “eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners” and that “In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.” Stone later tweeted that the review was “part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.”
Twitter on Wednesday blocked users from tweeting the Post story, with an error message saying, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”
According to Twitter spokesperson, the company determined that the New York Post story violated the social media company’s Hacked Material Policy, which bans “the use of our services to directly distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets.” In addition, Twitter disabled the Post’s original tweets linking to the Hunter Biden story.
In an editorial, the New York Post, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, lashed out at Facebook and Twitter’s decisions to curb distribution of the story.
“Censor first, ask questions later: It’s an outrageous attitude for two of the most powerful platforms in the United States to take,” the Post editorial said.
In the story, the Post said the emails were part of “massive trove” of data on a laptop that was left at a Delaware computer repair shop in 2019. The FBI seized the equipment after the shop’s owner alerted the agency to it. According to the Post, the computer shop owner first made a copy of the data on the laptop — and later handed that over to Giuliani lawyer Robert Costello. Ex-Trump adviser Steve Bannon informed the Post about laptop data “in late September”; on Sunday, per the Post, Giuliani provided the newspaper with a copy of the data.
A rep for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said the New York Post never inquired about “critical elements of the story.” Specifically, the Post “never raised that Rudy Giuliani — whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported — claimed to have such materials,” Biden spokesman Andrew Bates said.
“Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague, have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing,” Bates said.
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