US election: are social media giants ‘censoring’ stories about Joe Biden’s son and Ukraine?
Trump-supporting senators are accusing Twitter and Facebook of ‘election day interference’
US Republicans are set to subpoena Twitter boss Jack Dorsey after the social media platform and rival Facebook blocked access to a news article making unproven allegations against Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son.
Senator Ted Cruz yesterday accused the tech giants of using their “corporate power to silence the press and cover up allegations of corruption”, charging them with “active censorship” and “election day interference”. The Senate Judiciary Committee now plans to vote next week whether to haul in Dorsey to answer questions about why Twitter users were prevented from posting links to the story.
The article that triggered the row was published on Wednesday by the New York Post, which claimed that “Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-vice president Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company”.
The story was based on emails handed to the newspaper by Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is also in the Republicans’ firing line, after his plaform limited the report’s distribution in its news feed.
For an article published in a mainstream newspaper to be blocked is “highly unusual”, and the actions of Twitter and Facebook have “renewed accusations of social media censorship and bias”, says the BBC.
Trump and his supporters have repeatedly accused social media and tech giants of silencing right-wing voices.
However, the New York Post story “has been viewed skeptically by some as an effort at potential Russian meddling”, with both Cruz and Senate Judiciary Committee chair Lindsey Graham admitting they did not know if the allegations are accurate, Forbes reports.
A spokesperson for Democratic candidate said “the New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story”, adding “we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place”.
Meanwhile, Twitter has performed what the The Washington Post calls a “stunning reversal”, announcing today that the platform “will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them”.