Oct 14, 2020 - Technology

Facebook, Twitter clamp down on New York Post's Hunter Biden story

Illustration of a stack of newspapers with a siren on top.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday took steps to limit the circulation of a New York Post story about Hunter Biden, deploying throttles that have been built in an effort to avoid repeating mistakes of 2016.

Why it matters: In the run-up to November's election, online platforms have designed circuit breakers to limit the spread of hacked emails and foreign meddling. In 2016, such material helped shape the political fight, and social media took much of the blame.

What's happening: Those circuit breakers tripped after the New York Post story reported allegations about Joe Biden's son, based on what the paper said were emails provided to it Sunday by Rudy Giuliani.

  • Twitter cited its "Hacked Material Policy," which says Twitter doesn't "permit the use of our services to directly distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets."
  • A Facebook spokesperson said of the N.Y. Post story: "[W]e are reducing its distribution on our platform."

The Biden campaign said 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."

  • The paper said it first learned about the existence of the material from Steve Bannon — like Giuliani, an ally of President Trump — in late September.

Between the lines: The action by the platforms drew an online backlash from conservatives — with the ironic result of drawing more attention to the material.

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