Update (2000ET): Unless you've been hiding under a rock all day, you'll know that Twitter and Facebook have been escalating their censorship of a shocking New York Post story showing emails (to and from Hunter Biden) that clearly contradict Joe Biden's claims that he never discussed business with his son.
The authenticity of the contents of the emails was not denied by the Biden campaign and furthermore, the possibility of an off-the-books meeting between the VP and the Ukrainian executive was not denied:
Several GOP lawmakers got officially 'involved', including Rep Jim Jordan, who issued his own letter to Facebook demanding an explanation for why it decided to censor the Hunter Biden story.
Facebook reiterated its warning that that the U.S.’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, “given this morning’s news cycle.” He did not directly say whether this was why Facebook took action on the New York Post content.
Then Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey offered his comment, rapidly backpedaling on the actions his firm had taken:
Which sounded somewhat genuine, until the company attempted to provide "much needed clarity" about its decision.
The company then tried to cover its action by laying out a step-by-step explanation of how the story violated its terms of service. Notably, many of the examples it offered are routinely exhibited in news stories of all kinds.
The main offense that it's leaning on: publishing personal photos without the explicit permission of the subject.
News media have long respected the privacy of private individuals, but when it comes to public figures, all bets are off. At least that's what many reporters are taught in journalism school.
"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."
The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules.https://t.co/plPa5SZ3we— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
As noted this morning, we also currently view materials included in the articles as violations of our Hacked Materials Policy.https://t.co/gCY4BnBHHa— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
Commentary on or discussion about hacked materials, such as articles that cover them but do not include or link to the materials themselves, aren’t a violation of this policy. Our policy only covers links to or images of hacked material themselves.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
The policy, established in 2018, prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization. We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials.https://t.co/qx9rlzWH4O— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
We know we have more work to do to provide clarity in our product when we enforce our rules in this manner. We should provide additional clarity and context when preventing the Tweeting or DMing of URLs that violate our policies.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
We recognize that Twitter is just one of many places where people can find information online, and the Twitter Rules are intended to protect the conversation on our service, and to add context to people’s experience where we can.— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
Did President Trump give NBC News permission to publish that recording of him talking to Billy Bush?
Oh and one more thing...
"obtained without authorization"— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 15, 2020
Trump's tax records were given to The New York Times "without authorization" and Twitter made sure that it was the top trending story for days https://t.co/9pJIfzvwSh
Of course, conservatives immediately pointed out that it's not Twitter's communication skills that are the issue.
Your “communication” is not the problem. The problem is your totalitarian censorship, your election interference, and the fact that you allow genocidal terrorists to threaten Jews while banning elected U.S. officials from sharing American journalism. https://t.co/F0CrgP6GP7— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 15, 2020
And another user pointed out the irony of journalists backing Twitter's explanation.
Journalists carrying water for a digital platform suppressing certain types of journalism is a creepy phenomenon that will not end well for anyone, least of all journalists. https://t.co/J4JlnQQGqg— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) October 14, 2020
We have one warning for Mr.Dorsey, stay out of the way of (soon to be Congresswoman Laura Loomer):
Now, as we wait to learn more about Facebook's thought process, will Zuckerberg personally weigh in?
When will this be stopped? As Tucker Carlson said tonight: "Soon we're going to do a show where we just read the names of all the Republicans...who refused to lift a finger to save you from what you correctly described as this grave moment in American history."
Tucker Carlson & @esaagar Discuss The Future Of Big Tech Censorship— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) October 15, 2020
Tucker: "Soon we're going to do a show where we just read the names of all the Republicans...who refused to lift a finger to save you from what you correctly described as this grave moment in American history." pic.twitter.com/wOzDeFEDWH
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Update (1645ET): As the uproar over Twitter & Facebook's efforts to suppress Wednesday's New York Post exposè intensifies, Twitter has (begrudgingly, we imagine) made mention of the scandal in its trending topics.
Ironically, Streisand Effect is trending nationally - that's a subtle reference to the principle of how trying to suppress information often accidentally causes it to spread.
Several slots below that is #HunterBiden.
Quietly backtracking suggests Twitter is beginning to regret its decision to censor the story.
Meanwhile, as the mainstream media desperately tries to change the subject...
Billboard outside Des Moines airport where Trump holds Iowa rally tonight. pic.twitter.com/XHix45wzlw— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) October 14, 2020
...Ted Cruz, coming in hot off his performance during the ACB hearings this week, tweeted a copy of a letter he recently sent to the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey,
Facebook official spox (who describes himself as an alum of the DCCC & former Dem Sen. Barbara Boxer) explains Facebook’s active censorship of @nypost story alleging corruption by Biden.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 14, 2020
Who could doubt their impartiality? https://t.co/GITjkeEJP4
As Cruz argues in the letter, like myriad other newspaper reports published during the Trump era (too many to even begin to name here), the NYPost story was based on "leaked email correspondence". He adds that the decision to suppress the story was "hypocritical", given the company has allowed plenty of other less definitively sourced reporting to spread unchecked.
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' views of candidate Biden.
Cruz concluded that "this can only be seen as an obvious and transparent attempt by Twitter to influence the upcoming Presidential election," and demanded that the social media company turn over important details to the Subcommittee on the Constitution.
The most important of the four question (the first three mostly cover the whos, wheres, whens, and hows) is the last one, which asks Twitter to cite a "neutral principle" which would explain why the reporting on the Steele dossier was allowed to go unquestioned, but this story, reported in the country's 4th-highest circulation newspaper, must be censored because it's "dangerous".
Eric Weinstein seized the opportunity to make a great point.
I am deliberately posing here with actual “potentially harmful” objects found in my home. I still have minor in the house.— Eric Weinstein (@EricRWeinstein) October 14, 2020
Please @jack, let me know if I‘m violating Twitter’s Terms of Service as understood by your trusted Partners.
I am so disappointed in you. This is *wrong*. pic.twitter.com/jqIXQtuNvC
An editor at the Post accused Twitter of waging a "digital civil war" against conservatives, citing this as the latest evidence.
This is a Big Tech information coup. This is digital civil war.— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) October 14, 2020
I, an editor at The New York Post, one of the nation’s largest papers by circulation, can’t post one of our own stories that details corruption by a major-party presidential candidate, Biden. pic.twitter.com/BKNQmAG19H
By censoring the NYPost story, Twitter and Facebook have effectively allowed what many would have written off as "just another crazy Hunter story" to take on a life of its own. Ironically, they've accomplished what they were purportedly trying to prevent: they've given the story even more oxygen.
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Update (1455ET): If you thought Twitter's censorship of the NYPost Hunter Biden exposé couldn't get anymore Orwellian, well, you were wrong.
As if preventing users from sharing the link wasn't enough, the platform has now deleted the NYP's initial tweet.
Twitter deleted @nypost’s tweet about the Hunter Biden bombshell. This is election interference. We’ve entered the age where we have a "ministry of truth" run by Democrats and only they decide what’s true. They demand that you no longer believe your lying eyes & ears.— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) October 14, 2020
We imagine it did so after a flood of hysterical leftists smashed that "report tweet" button.
Meanwhile, after the Biden campaign neglected to comment on the veracity of the emails shared in the NYPost expose, the White House pool reporter reported that the Biden campaign had called a "lid" - that is, an end to all in-person campaign-related events - before 10am, ensuring the former VP wouldn't have any prolonged in person contact with reporters on the same day the expose dropped.
As we've explained in the past, a "lid" is essentially permission for the doting reporters covering Biden's campaign to head home for the day. His campaign's frequent use of the practice has drawn more unwanted attention to the cozy relationship between the Biden campaign and the Washington Press corp.
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Update (1430ET): Twitter is now apparently flagging this morning's NY Post report as "unsafe" and refusing to allow its users to share it.
This is what happens when I try to post our story exposing Biden family graft. pic.twitter.com/7pwxUoNgTX— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) October 14, 2020
This is an escalation from earlier, when Twitter was merely prompting users to reconsider before sharing.
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Update (1405ET): While left-wing conspiracy theorists try to denounce the emails published by the NYP as fake, the Trump Campaign has just pointed out something very interesting in its latest comment on the issue.
🚨📩 INBOX —> @TeamTrump statement on Biden response to NY Post Bombshell:— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) October 14, 2020
“The Biden campaign does not dispute the authenticity of the emails published by the New York Post, which serves to confirm that they are real,” says @TimMurtaugh pic.twitter.com/2UScI1pQ45
This medium post purporting to show that the emails were "photoshopped" has been making the rounds - unimpeded - on social media.
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Update (1310ET): In the social media contest to see which platforms can successfully suppress Wednesday's NYP Hunter Biden scoop, it looks like Twitter has taken the lead. In addition to scrubbing Hunter's name from its trending topics, Twitter is hitting users trying to retweet the story with one of their "are you sure?" prompts.
Twitter now too pic.twitter.com/TGTve2mXuC— Jack Posobiec (@JackPosobiec) October 14, 2020
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Update (1255ET): Hours after the Trump Campaign earlier blasted the Biden Campaign's "blatant selling of access", team Biden has finally responded by asserting that the meeting between VP Biden and a top Burisma executive described in one of the leaked emails detailed below never took place.
“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” said campaign spokesman Andrew Bates in a statement.
New: Biden campaign responds to NY Post story. “The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story...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.” pic.twitter.com/yB2N5mvsXb— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) October 14, 2020
The team also claimed that they were never approached by the reporters who published the story.
To be sure, just because it wasn't on Biden's "official" schedule, doesn't mean it didn't happen.
The Biden campaign’s response to the NY Post story is that Biden’s meeting with the corrupt official of a corrupt Ukrainian gas company isn’t on Biden’s official schedule. No one was expecting it to be on his official schedule. https://t.co/Pog0xqtsF5— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) October 14, 2020
The Biden camp also claimed the NY Post did nothing to try and corroborate the "unverified" emails.
Notably, the NY Post has shared one of the emails in full in a PDF document.
Critics are calling for the Post to release metadata from the emails, or some other clue to verify the messages.
Meanwhile, Trump Campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh makes a good point.
"The real question is, as of course this has been seized by the FBI since then, why has the FBI been sitting on this?" Murtaugh said, adding, "I would also further point out that no one seemed to care when someone committed an obvious federal crime by leaking the president’s tax documents to the New York Times."
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Update (1150ET): More high-profile conservatives have lashed out at Facebook for censoring the story about Hunter Biden.
This is straight-up election interference by @Facebook, being announced by their comms person who touts in his bio numerous past jobs with Dems. Big Tech is openly trying to rig this election for Biden & should be held accountable immediately. @FCC @senjudiciary @SenateCommerce https://t.co/NO2eG6D6K0— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 14, 2020
Holy bleeping bleep. Facebook explicitly admitting it is protecting Biden -- and interfering in the presidential election -- by censoring media outlets and limiting discussion of today's breaking news about Biden's engagement with Burisma. https://t.co/nF07qqyc5J— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 14, 2020
Facebook is openly admitting its interference in a U.S. presidential election by blatantly censoring media outlets that print negative facts about their preferred presidential candidate, Joe Biden. Terrifying. https://t.co/nF07qqyc5J— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 14, 2020
The most Pravda-like thing is that the immediate pushback by Biden's many allies in Big Media and Big Tech serve as confirmation of the story and how damaging it is to the Biden campaign. If it weren't true, they'd just say that, rather than censor its distribution.— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 14, 2020
Of course, Facebook isn't alone: Twitter is also keeping the story out of its trending topics menu.
Twitter clearly also part of Big Tech's presidential election interference and their censorship of the negative facts surrounding Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. https://t.co/2bGKIEv5K5— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 14, 2020
We're also seeing an avalanche of memes.
I had to... pic.twitter.com/lueR5wIm9X— M3thods (@M2Madness) October 14, 2020
While the hard drive has been turned over to the FBI, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee confirmed it's working with the computer repairman who initially discovered the hard drive to "verify" the documents. The repairman initially contacted the committee back in September, one day after it released the report on conflicts related to Hunter, per the NY Post.
Some other revelations have been publicized from the email cache: In a follow-up piece, the NY Post revealed that Blue Star Strategies, identified by the NY Post as a "Democratic" PR firm, leaked the minutes of an administration conference call to Burisma executive Vadym Pozharskyi along with Hunter Biden and his former business partner Devon Archer.
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Update (1145ET): Rumor has it that one of the lewd videos mentioned earlier features Hunter Biden smoking crack and having sexual relations with an unidentified woman.
11. Allegedly, the laptop Hunter "forgot" to pick up also contains a 12 minute video of him smoking crack and having sex with an unidentified woman.— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) October 14, 2020
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Update (1115ET): In a surprising move to censor a mainstream media outlet known for leaning conservative, Facebook's platform managers have decided to actively suppress distribution of the latest Hunter Biden expose.
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. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
The Trump Campaign accused Stone and the company of actively interfering in the election.
Republicans and conservatives across Twitter and elsewhere also expressed their dismay at the decision.
While CEO Mark Zuckerberg has acknowledged that Facebook has some obligation to censor or root out "misinformation", this story isn't what that is. Keep in mind, Facebook censored ZERO stories about the Russia investigation and its origins, even as some key elements of the NYT's early reporting were found to be false.
Facebook, as a matter of policy, is now censoring stories detailing documented corruption by Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 14, 2020
At no point did Facebook ever seek to throttle the reach of any Russian-disinformation-fueled stories falsely alleging collusion. https://t.co/N8ktaqCn2J
Twitter is censoring the president and shadow-banning conservatives, Facebook is blocking negative stories about Joe Biden and his crackhead son, and Google is kow-towing to communist China, in case you were wondering whether Big Tech is conspiring to steal the 2020 election.— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) October 14, 2020
To be sure, mainstream media are abiding with a near-blackout, just as we had anticipated.
Any time legacy media drops a supposed "bombshell" on Trump, it immediately hits the front pages.— Tristan Justice (@JusticeTristan) October 14, 2020
Still waiting on NYT, WaPo, and CNN however to write anything on the @nypost's actual bombshell on Joe Biden lying about what he knew of his son's overseas business interests. pic.twitter.com/amcilH0cv0
It's like veteran political journalist Matt Taibbi (hardly a conservative) has argued: best-case, enforcing "misinformation" is a laborious game of whack-a-mole. But right now, it's just simply opening the companies to accusations of bias because that's what they are showing.
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Update (1006ET): Due to the gravity of its claims, the NY Post's Hunter Biden scoop has overshadowed the third day of ACB's confirmation hearings to become the major political story of the day.
So far, the MSM's most cogent objection is: 'if all of this is real, then why wasn't it in the Senate report? And how long has Giuliani had a copy of the hard drive?'
Things that are sketchy in NYP story on Hunter Biden - why wasn’t this in Ron Johnson report if it’s been in possession for awhile? When did Giuliani acquire it? Giuliani has been everywhere on the but this has been kicking around since late last year and unreleased till now?— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) October 14, 2020
One respondent joked.
And while the NY Post published numerous photos from the hard-drive ranging from the banal to the bizarre, photos of Hunter Biden with a crack/meth pipe in his mouth have gone viral on social media.
What a legend pic.twitter.com/rlZcb2qZiz— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 14, 2020
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Update (0900ET): The White House is celebrating the Wednesday morning NY Post bombshell...
🚨🚨 BOMBSHELL 🚨 🚨— Kayleigh McEnany (@kayleighmcenany) October 14, 2020
Hunter introduced Joe Biden to a top executive at the Ukrainian energy firm he received $50K/month from!
BIDEN: “I have never discussed with my son or my brother or anyone else anything having to do with their businesses. Period.”@JoeBiden LIED. PERIOD‼️ pic.twitter.com/zDy75fxauq
...while the MSM is trying to make it all go away.
The 'smoking gun' email in the NY Post story — even if it is authentic, given the massive red flags — doesn't actually say what the story says it does.— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) October 14, 2020
Also, recall: https://t.co/qPVwoX4g1f
That's hardly a surprise.
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MSM organizations may have largely ignored findings from a Senate Intel Committee report, released last month, which claimed that some of Hunter Biden's activities in Ukraine raised "counterintelligence and extortion" concerns. On the day that report dropped, Rep Adam Schiff brushed it aside, accusing his GOP colleagues in the Senate of "promoting the same Russian disinformation", per the New York Post.
Well, we'd be interested to hear what Schiff & Company have to say about this.
In a shocking report based on documents collected by the FBI - but which haven't been previously disclosed in the press - the New York Post reveals that Hunter Biden introduced his father - then the Vice President of the United States - to a top executive at Burisma, the shady Ukrainian energy firm where Biden once served as a board member.
Emails contained in the report shed new light on Biden's claims that he successfully forced former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to fire a public prosecutor named Viktor Shokin. Biden bragged about leveraging $1 billion in US aid to force Poroshenko to fire Shokin, who was opposed by both the US and the EU. However, Shokin was reportedly working on an investigation into the management and executive board of Burisma, a group that included Hunter Biden, and his former business partner Devon Archer, whose conviction on securities fraud charges in the US was recently reinstated.
The emails offer evidence that Hunter Biden did in fact introduce his father to a top executive at Burisma less than a year before the vice president moved to oust Shokin, thereby quashing an investigation into the firm. The meeting is referenced in emails between Vadym Pozharskyi, an advisor to the board of Burisma, who sent Biden an email on April 17, 2015 thanking him for the introduction.
Another email also shows Pozharskyi, believed to be the No. 3 exec at Burisma, asking Biden about how the political scion could "use your influence" to help Burisma.
All of this would seem to undermine Biden's claim that he has "never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings", which also included extensive dealings in China.
Another email dated on May 12, 2014, shortly after Hunter joined the board, shows Pozharskyi attempting to pressure Biden to use his "political leverage" to help the company. The message included the subject line "urgent issue" and also references an attempted "shakedown" by Ukrainian prosecutors under Poroshenko. According to Pozharskyi, prosecutors in the country had approached a man referred to as "NZ", who was identified by the Post as Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, who went by the Americanized name "Nicholas".
When "NZ" rebuffed their threats, they proceeded with "concrete actions" including "one or more pretrial proceedings," Pozharskyi wrote.
“We urgently need your advice on how you could use your influence to convey a message / signal, etc .to stop what we consider to be politically motivated actions,” he added.
The timing of the email is also notable: It was sent just as Burisma was announcing Biden's decision to join the executive board.
It's merely the latest piece of evidence suggesting that the company brought Biden on to manage its "legal affairs" because it likely believed his pull with the US would protect Burisma from these types of prosecutorial "shakedowns".
In addition to the emails, the drive contained photos, some of which were shared with the Post. They spanned from family snaps of Hunter with his father and his kids, to selfies of Biden smoking cigarettes in a variety of unusual poses.
According to the Post, the images and correspondence were taken from the hard drive of a laptop that was dropped off at a repair shop in Delaware, and never retrieved. After seeing what was on the hard drive, the owner of the shop copied it, and turned it over to a lawyer connected with former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani reportedly turned it over to the NY Post over the weekend.
We imagine the MSM will cover up this report, as is standard practice for any concerning information involving Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings.