- Twitter barred users from sharing two controversial New York Post articles about Hunter Biden because they violated its policies against sharing personal information and hacked materials, the company said Wednesday evening.
- “We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as a distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials,” the company’s safety team tweeted.
- CEO Jack Dorsey also said that Twitter’s communication about its actions Wednesday “was not great” and that blocking users from sharing the articles without any context was “unacceptable.”
- Twitter took actions to limit the reach of the articles after questions arose about their veracity because of their dubious sourcing and concerns the information may be part of a disinformation campaign.
Twitter has expanded on its rationale for blocking users from sharing two New York Post articles about Hunter Biden after questions arose about the articles’ veracity.
In a tweet thread Wednesday evening, Twitter’s public-safety team said the articles violated the platform’s policies against sharing private and personal information as well as distributing hacked materials.
“The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules,” the company said regarding its personal information policy.
Regarding hacked materials, Twitter said “commentary on or discussion” about such materials didn’t violate its policy, adding that it “only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves.”
“We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as a distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials,” Twitter said of the policy, which it has had since 2018.
We want to provide much needed clarity around the actions we’ve taken with respect to two NY Post articles that were first Tweeted this morning.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
Earlier Wednesday, Twitter blocked users from linking to the stories in tweets and private messages to limit the spread of the articles, which purported to show a “smoking-gun email” featuring Hunter Biden communicating with a Ukrainian official about meeting with Biden’s father, Joe Biden.
Multiple news outlets, including Business Insider, called into question the accuracy of the New York Post’s reporting, citing dubious sourcing and the possibility that the information came from a disinformation campaign. The most glaring red flags centered on whether the emails described in the story were legitimate, how they were uncovered, and how the Post obtained them.
Twitter’s actions, which mirrored similar ones by Facebook aimed at “reducing the distribution” of the articles, prompted pushback from conservatives.
“I find this behavior stunning but not surprising from a platform that has censored the President of the United States,” Republican Sen. Josh Hawley wrote in a letter to Twitter. (The First Amendment does not prohibit private companies from limiting speech, only the government).
“Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted Wednesday evening regarding the company’s response. “And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable.”