Facebook and Twitter cast doubt on a New York Post article that made statements about the son of the Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, taking proactive steps to restrict the text from being published hours after it was published last Wednesday (14).
The report contained alleged details of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company and said the former vice president met with a consultant for the company.
The story, which Reuters has not independently confirmed, provides details of emails that it said were sent to Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.
Robert Costello, Giuliani’s lawyer quoted in the “Post” story, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
THE Twitter has banned its users from publishing links to the report, while Facebook has reduced the frequency with which the story appears in news feeds of users and elsewhere on your platform.
Biden’s campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that Senate committees led by Republicans had already concluded that Biden was not involved in any Ukraine-related offense.
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“The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the crucial elements of that story,” said Bates. “We reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules at the time and no meeting, as claimed by the New York Post, ever took place,” he added.
Trump, who is after Biden in national polls before the November 3 presidential election, said it was “terrible” that Twitter and Facebook “dropped the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son , Hunter “and vaguely alluded to a threat of regulatory action.
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The New York Post, in an editorial responding to companies’ actions, said: “Censure first, ask questions later: it is an outrageous move for two of the most powerful platforms in the United States.” The newspaper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Facebook, the largest social network in the world, limited disclosure of the “Post” story just hours after its publication on Wednesday, according to a tweet by spokesman Andy Stone.
Stone cited a policy that says the Facebook may temporarily take action against content pending review by news organizations and others in its fact-checking program from third parties “if we have signs that some of the content is false”.
Facebook did the same thing at least once before, in response to false claims – also involving the “New York Post” – that Biden used a headset in last month’s debate. A Reuters analysis revealed that the brand on Biden’s outfit was probably a crease on his shirt.
THE Twitter said the story violated its “hacked materials” policy, which prohibits the distribution of content obtained through hackers that contain private information or trade secrets, or that puts people at risk of physical harm. The company did not provide details on what materials were seen as hacked in the Post’s articles.
“It was not hacked,” Trump’s lawyer Giuliani told Reuters. Twitter said in a series of tweets that the images contained in two articles in the “Post” included personal information, such as email addresses and phone numbers, which put them in violation of the “company’s private information policy”.
The quick actions of social media companies have been praised by some misinformation researchers, who have warned about the origin and credibility of the “Post” report, but some said it raised questions about their processes to decide to contain the spread of false information.
Cristina Tardaguila, associate director of the International Fact-Checking Network, said she found Facebook’s decision to act without disclosing its methodology “disruptive”.
While Facebook may ask fact verifiers for ratings of certain content, several fact verification partners, including a Reuters unit, said the company did not do this in this case, nor did it choose to initiate a verification on its own.
Despite moves to restrict dissemination, information from the story circulated widely on both platforms.
Versions of the report reached the list of the 10 most shared links in English on Facebook pages and groups, while the topic was still among the ‘trends’ on Twitter on Wednesday afternoon.