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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted communication about his company’s response was “not great” after they stoked a firestorm of backlash for censoring a New York Post story unflattering to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Twitter disabled the link to a New York Post exclusive that alleged Hunter Biden introduced his father to a Burisma executive a year before the former vice president pushed Ukraine to fire its top prosecutor who was investigating the energy company. The story called into question Joe Biden’s insistence that he knew nothing about his son’s foreign business dealings.
Users who attempted to tweet out the story were met with a message that read, “We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.” Users who clicked on the link were taken to a page that blocked them from reading the article, claiming, “Warning: this link may be unsafe.”
Twitter went so far as to lock the accounts of some users who disseminated the story, such as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the New York Post itself.
Dorsey wrote, “Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable.”
Dorsey’s tweet was a quote-tweet of the official “Twitter Safety” account’s more in-depth explanation for what took place.
“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,” Twitter said in part. Going on to claim the New York Post story had violated its “Hacked Materials Policy,” Twitter added they “should provide additional clarity and context when preventing the Tweeting or DMing of URLs that violate our policies.”
— jack (@jack) October 14, 2020
Many responded to Dorsey’s tweet with ridicule, perhaps most notably from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who called it “insulting” and threatened to haul both Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before Congress. Facebook also suppressed the ability of its users to access the story.
“[T]his is not nearly good enough,” Hawley responded. “In fact, it’s a joke. It’s downright insulting. I will ask you – and @Facebook – to give an explanation UNDER OATH to the Senate subcommittee I chair. These are potential violations of election law, and that’s a crime[.]”
.@Twitter @jack this is not nearly good enough. In fact, it’s a joke. It’s downright insulting. I will ask you – and @Facebook – to give an explanation UNDER OATH to the Senate subcommittee I chair. These are potential violations of election law, and that’s a crime https://t.co/Rylva8UJv9
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 15, 2020
Earlier on Wednesday, Hawley sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into whether Twitter and Facebook violated campaign finance law by quashing a story about the alleged corruption of a presidential nominee.