Oct 16, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Elliott Broidy says Twitter should take action on other hack and leak stories

Illustration of the shadow of the Twitter bird logo over a big red button

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Elliott Broidy, a top Republican fundraiser expected to plead guilty in a foreign lobbying case, is challenging Twitter over its handling of content related to "hacked materials."

What's happening: Broidy wants Twitter to explain why information from hacked and leaked materials about his case was allowed to remain on the site, while Twitter took swift action to suppress a New York Post story about Hunter Biden allegedly based on hacked and released materials, according to a letter obtained by Axios.

Our thought bubble: The letter shows that Twitter's move against the New York Post will likely open an endless range of new challenges and questions about how it enforces its policies.

Catch up quick: Twitter late Thursday said it was revising its "hacked materials" policy in response to the uproar over its ban on the New York Post story.

  • The tech giant said it would no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them and it will label tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter.

Details: The letter, sent from Broidy's lawyer to Twitter's head of legal, policy and trust Vijaya Gadde, asks Twitter to "take immediate action to ensure that Twitter’s policies are enforced fairly."

  • "Twitter’s policy against allowing the dissemination of private information and trade secrets dates back to at least 2018, and yet, thousands of links remain on Twitter to stories that contain or link to Mr. Broidy’s hacked materials, including those that reveal emails, email addresses, private information and business trade secrets," it reads.

Between the lines: Broidy is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

  • He was accused in a criminal information document of leveraging his "access to and perceived influence" with President Trump and the administration to lobby the Justice Department to drop an investigation into the massive Malaysian embezzlement scheme 1MDB.

The big picture: Broidy's lawyer argues Twitter's actions are particularly egregious because The Post's sourcing is more transparent than the sourcing provided by other news outlets when reporting on leaked materials.

  • Specifically, he alleges that the materials obtained by The New York Times, the AP and others had "intentionally obscured that they had received non-authenticatable PDFs of hacked materials from American mercenaries sponsored by a notorious state sponsor of terrorism," referring to Qatar.
  • Broidy has sought lucrative business opportunities in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, which view Qatar as a regional foe. He has sued the government of Qatar and American agents over the alleged hacking conspiracy, which the Gulf monarchy denies.
  • Broidy's legal team did not respond to a request for comment.

The bottom line: Twitter's New York Post saga shows that tech platforms face an uphill battle in trying to control hack and leak campaigns without being accused of bias.

Read the full letter.

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