By now, most Americans are probably aware that earlier this week, the New York Post tried to publish a series of stories based on emails and photos allegedly obtained from a laptop dropped off at a computer repair shop owned by a supporter of President Trump. Once the shop owner saw what was on the hard drive, he reportedly got "spooked" and contacted the FBI, which confiscated the hard drive - but not before the repair shop owner made a copy of it.
After the first story hit, Facebook and Twitter stepped up to suppress the story, barring users from sharing the link, and temporarily suspending those - including the president's press secretary - who managed to do so anyway (Twitter even shut down a twitter account associated with the Senate Judiciary Committee after it shared a copy of the story reposted to its website).
During the chaos, a smattering of GOP lawmakers sent letters to Twitter and Facebook demanding and explanation; Sen. Ted Cruz said earlier that he would be happy to subpoena Mark Zuckerberg over what Cruz described as "transparent election interference" by America's largest social media titans. The Judiciary Committeee is already preparing to vote Friday Oct. 23 on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Earlier in the week, Jack Dorsey offered a non-apology apology by saying he regretted the breakdown in communication as Twitter moved to suppress the story and punish those sharing it without offering any kind of explanation.
But now that lawmakers are stepping up the pressure, the CEO has returned Friday morning with another more thorough apology, where he acknowledged that the company was "wrong" to 'straight up block the url' or urls associated with the sensitive NY Post stories.
Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix. Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that. https://t.co/ZLUw3YD887— jack (@jack) October 16, 2020
Dorsey retweeted a thread from the company's top legal and policy executive, Vijaya Gadde, outlining the changes. Read the whole thread below.
Over the last 24 hours, we’ve received significant feedback (from critical to supportive) about how we enforced our Hacked Materials Policy yesterday. After reflecting on this feedback, we have decided to make changes to the policy and how we enforce it.— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) October 16, 2020
Most importantly, Gadde said that Twitter will no longer remove hacked content unless the content has been "directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them." And said the company will "label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter."
Here's the full statement (source: @vijaya)
Over the last 24 hours, we’ve received significant feedback (from critical to supportive) about how we enforced our Hacked Materials Policy yesterday. After reflecting on this feedback, we have decided to make changes to the policy and how we enforce it. Why the changes? We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation.
We put the Hacked Materials Policy in place back in 2018 to discourage and mitigate harms associated with hacks and unauthorized exposure of private information. We tried to find the right balance between people’s privacy and the right of free expression, but we can do better. We’ve recently added new product capabilities, such as labels to provide people with additional context. We are no longer limited to Tweet removal as an enforcement action. We believe that labeling Tweets and empowering people to assess content for themselves better serves the public interest and public conversation. The Hacked Material Policy is being updated to reflect these new enforcement capabilities. So, what’s changing?
1. We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them
2. We will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter All the other Twitter Rules will still apply to the posting of or linking to hacked materials, such as our rules against posting private information, synthetic and manipulated media, and non-consensual nudity. I’m grateful for everyone who has provided feedback and insights over the past day. Content moderation is incredibly difficult, especially in the critical context of an election. We are trying to act responsibly & quickly to prevent harms, but we’re still learning along the way. We will continue to keep you all updated on our progress and more details as we update our policy pages to reflect these changes in the coming days.
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The mainstream press has continued to insist that the documents reported by the NY Post were "hacked", despite there being zero evidence of this. Earlier theories about the documents and photos being forged were shot down when the Biden Camp left open the possibility that Biden may have briefly met with an executive of Burisma during his time as VP - despite repeatedly insisting that he never discussed business with his son Hunter Biden.
But that won't stop liberals from tearing into Dorsey over the decision as the notion that conservative political speech should be suppressed remains firmly entrenched in mainstream political discourse.