Twitter is no longer blocking links to the Joe Biden Ukraine story and has now changed its policies to say it will label posts it finds questionable instead of removing them or stopping people from sharing them, after being threatened with subpoenas and investigations by Republicans.
The about-turn came on Thursday night after an explosive 24 hours during which Trump’s re-election campaign and his White House Press Secretary had their accounts locked for posting links to the Biden story.
The story by The New York Post suggested Biden met with a Ukrainian businessman in 2015, when his son Hunter was being paid by the businessman, and that he then used his power as Vice President to force Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor who was looking into the businessman’s gas firm.
It contained an email from the businessman to Hunter which had been harvested from a laptop that was mysteriously left in a repair shop in Delaware.
Facebook blocked circulation of the story first, saying it needed to be fact-checked. The social network has not said anything else about it and refuses to answer questions on the subject.
Then Twitter followed, stopping people from posting links to it and locking the accounts of people who did. The company then claimed, a day later, that it was because the story contained personal information.
Republicans and the media responded with outrage and said the two internet giants were guilty of censorship and election interference.
GOP senators fumed that users were unable to share information from the New York Post about Bidens and alleged secret emails
Twitter’s Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead, Vijaya Gadde announced the change on Thursday night
Twitter changed its position on Thursday night.
‘Over the last 24 hours, we’ve received significant feedback (from critical to supportive) about how we enforced our Hacked Materials Policy yesterday.
‘After reflecting on this feedback, we have decided to make changes to the policy and how we enforce it,’ Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety, said.
The links blocked by Twitter contained stories about emails between Hunter Biden and a Ukraine official who claimed he’d been introduced to Joe Biden. It also contained images of Hunter Biden.
The information was provided by Rudy Giuliani to the New York Post after a computer repair store owner said he’d found it on a hard drive.
The store owner said a man who he was unable to identify brought three computers into his store for repair last fall. He said he then made a copy of the emails and images on the hard drive, and provided it to the FBI and to Giuliani, Trump’s lawyer.
The New York Post’s story purported to expose corrupt dealings by former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden in Ukraine.
The newspaper claimed that the elder Biden, who was in charge of US policy toward Ukraine, took actions to help his son, who in 2014-2017 sat on the board of controversial Ukraine energy company Burisma. But the source for the information raised questions.
The report also made claims about Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine which were contrary to the record.
The Team Trump Twitter was locked for posting the New York Post story about Joe and Hunter Biden 19 days before the election
Ted Cruz was among Republicans who threatened to subpoena Twitter and Facebook over their decision to block the story
Facebook blocked the story first then Twitter followed but both were condemned by for the decision.
Dorsey apologized for not providing enough context about why they were clamping down but stood by blocking it, claiming the article contains ‘private information’ which breaches their policies.
The Biden campaign rejected the assertions of corruption in the report, but has not denied the veracity of the underlying materials, mostly emails between Hunter Biden and business partners.
Trump blasted the two social media giants on Wednesday.
‘So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost,’ Trump posted on Twitter.
‘We have seen big tech, we’ve seen Twitter and Facebook actively interfering in this election in a way that has no precedent in the history of our country,’ fumed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz Thursday, as the panel met for its fourth day of hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
Cruz, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said the the panel will vote Oct. 20 on issuing the subpoena, with a plan to haul Dorsey before its members Friday October 23, just days before Election Day.
Cruz said the Senate Judiciary Committee would vote next Tuesday to subpoena Dorsey to testify at the end of next week and ‘explain why Twitter is abusing their corporate power to silence the press.’
Sen. Lindsey Graham complained by pointing to information that was available in 2016 without being blocked.
‘The Steele dossier was all over the place, they never blocked that, all the allegations about Russian collusion and Trump and every other idea that Trump may have done something bad, nobody blocked that,’ he said.
Facebook also blocked the story. One of its communications directors, Andy Stone, announced the decision on Twitter
The Post story suggested that in 2015, Biden met with a Ukrainian businessman his son Hunter introduced him to while Hunter was being paid by the Ukrainian’s firm, and that Biden later – as VP – did the man a favor