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Facebook, Twitter restrictions on Biden article infuriate Trump

Bloomberg October 15 | Updated on October 15, 2020 Published on October 15, 2020

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate Joe Biden (file photo)   -  REUTERS

The article linked Biden and his son to a Ukrainian company that figured in impeachment probe against Trump

President Donald Trump and his political allies reacted with fury after Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc on Wednesday restricted a New York Post article linking Joe Biden and his son Hunter to a Ukrainian energy company that figured in the impeachment investigation of Trump.

Facebook said it would reduce distribution of the article, seeking to slow the pace of its spread before the social network’s fact-checkers have a chance to evaluate its authenticity.

Twitter inserted a warning to people who clicked on the article. The company later said it took action to block links to the story because some of the article’s images contained material that violated Twitter’s rules about sharing personal information and hacked materials.

“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 wrote on Twitter as he headed to a rally in Iowa. “There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”

The president was referring to part of the 1996 Communications Decency Act that protects technology companies from being sued over users’ content on their platforms.

Trump used the article in an extended attack on the Bidens at the rally in Des Moines.

Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, accused the companies of censorship and his office said in a statement that he had written letters to Facebooks’ Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, charging that they were trying to influence the presidential election.

Neither Facebook nor Twitter immediately responded to requests for comment on Trump’s tweet and Cruz’s letters.

US election 2020: Biden warns of potential foul play, urges supporters to cast their votes

Hacked or inaccurate content

Facebook has warned that the US’s foreign adversaries, including Russia, might seek to trick journalists into amplifying hacked or inaccurate content they want to spread ahead of an election. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, issued this warning again Wednesday on Twitter. He did not directly say whether this was why Facebook took action on the New York Post content.

According to the Post, emails that the newspaper said were from Hunter Biden show he introduced his father, then the vice-president, to Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of the energy company, Burisma. The younger Biden served on the board.

The paper claimed that the communication contradicts an assertion by Joe Biden that he hadn’t spoken to his son about his business dealings. A purported email from April 17, 2015, shows the Ukrainian energy executive thanking Hunter for the introduction. Bloomberg News hasn’t independently verified the authenticity of the purported emails.

Yet the Post offered no proof that the meeting took place, or that the Bidens discussed the matter.

Trump claims that Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine, in which he pushed for the dismissal of the country’s prosecutor general, were to benefit Hunter Biden and Burisma.

That accusation has been widely debunked.

The Biden campaign said Wednesday that the former vice-president did not meet with the Burisma executive.

On Wednesday evening, Trump said that Twitter had locked the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany after she tweeted about the Post article.

Not long afterward, McEnany commented on her White House account: “Censorship should be condemned!”

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Published on October 15, 2020
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