Twitter is cracking down on users’ ability to share a news story about Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
On Wednesday, The New York Post published an expose on emails reportedly retrieved from a computer that belonged to Hunter Biden. Those emails appear to show that Hunter Biden introduced his father, while he was still vice president, an executive for Ukrainian energy company Burisma.
The Post also alleged that the former vice president met with the executive, Vadym Pozharskyi.
The story quickly spread around social media. However, by Wednesday afternoon, third-party fact-checkers and other news outlets had yet to verify the details of the Post’s story.
Hours after the Post published its report, Twitter users noted that attempts to share the story led to an error message that read, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”
if you click on the story in an older tweet, you will see this message: pic.twitter.com/ZrMvSV7UDi— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 14, 2020
In a statement, Twitter said, “In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) penned a letter that accused the platform of censoring the Post to influence the 2020 presidential election.
“Twitter has apparently decided to preemptively censor this report. Twitter is not only prohibiting users from sharing this story on their own accounts, it is prohibiting the New York Post itself from posting its own content,” Cruz wrote.
He continued, “Twitter well-knows its incredible ability to influence public dialogue by promoting some stories while suppressing others, and it has plainly decided that the American people should not be seeing or discussing this particular story, which could significantly influence voters’ view of candidate Biden.”
“This can only be seen as an obvious and transparent attempt by Twitter to influence the upcoming presidential election,” he added.
Read Cruz’s letter below:
He continued to ask who made the decision to restrict users’ ability to share the story, when the Post was made known of the decision and what recourse it was given, if Twitter has ever taken similar action against other news outlets, and why other stories were not subject to similar actions.
Cruz also asked if Twitter had restricted stories about President Donald Trump, or if “employees involved in the decision to censor this reporting have been in contact in any capacity with the Biden-Harris campaign or any of its representatives.
Earlier on Wednesday, Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said, “While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact-checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners.”
This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review. https://t.co/vf3CBvLmjj— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
“In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform,” he added.
Stone explained that the decision to limit the distribution of the story was “part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.”
Biden’s campaign denied the story in a statement, “The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story. They certainly never raised that Rudy Giuliani – whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported – claimed to have such materials.”
“Moreover, we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” the statement continued.