Twitter and Facebook have censored an article from The New York Post, allegedly exposing Hunter Biden using US Presidential Nominee Joe Biden’s influence as then Vice-President in Ukraine for Burisma Holdings’ gain.
Twitter’s Censorship Allegations and Trump’s “Preventing Online Censorship” Executive Order
Twitter has tried desperately over the years to curb accounts they deem abusive or spreading misinformation; even trying to prevent users from being “dunked on”- no matter the reason. These have included limiting an abusive tweet’s visibility, and even changing the default “egg avatar” due to its alleged association with harassment.
The former- better known as shadow banning- resulted in Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey having to testify to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. This was due to allegations of censorship, especially aimed at those with republican beliefs. Twitter’s terms of service (as of January 2020) effectively wrote shadow banning into their terms [1, 2, 3].
Back in February of this year, images from an experimental branch of Twitter leaked to the public; wherein tweets could be flagged and marked as “harmfully misleading,” with labels with the correct information under it. In late May of this year, Twitter also allowed users to control who could reply to their tweets.
On May 28th, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on “Preventing Online Censorship,” after Twitter marked one of his tweets as “deceptive.” President Trump had expressed concern that mail-in ballots “will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.”
In summation, the executive order ascertains that social media is the modern “public square.” As such they would lose their protections from being liable for what users post, if they use “their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”
Specifically, this was by “clarifying” section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act; which offered immunity from liability for social media platforms from what their users posted. Under the executive order, this rescinds the immunity for those who act as “publishers” by “curating” user content.
The executive order makes it so the act serves its “true” purpose- to protect those engaging in “‘Good Samaritan’ blocking” of “harmful content.” The executive order was sent to the FCC on July 27th to be filed.
Twitter’s New Rules and Limits for the 2020 US Election
On October 9th, Twitter announced their new rules and limits in the run-up to the 2020 US election; including early result announcements being marked as misinformation.
Other changes included retweets of a tweet with a misleading information label giving a prompt to “credible information,” and “warnings and further restrictions” on tweets that are deemed misleading from “accounts owned by US political figures, US-based accounts with 100,000+ followers, or Tweets that obtain significant engagement.”
They will also “temporarily ask people to add their own commentary before amplifying content by prompting Quote Tweets instead of Retweets.” What users see on their timelines during the election will also be affected, as Twitter “will prevent ‘liked by’ and ‘followed by’ recommendations from people you don’t follow from showing up in your timeline and won’t send notifications for these Tweets.”
Finally, the Trends in the For You tab for US users will only “surface” with “additional context.” This is to “more quickly let people know why something is trending and also help reduce the potential for misleading information to spread.”
The above factors have lead many to grow concerned with Twitter’s effect on the 2020 US election, and that Twitter would even go as far as to attempt to prevent or hinder President Trump winning.
One particular theory held by some online proposes that major news outlets (who have also been accused of an anti-Trump and anti-republican bias) will not report the results of the election, should Trump win.
The theory proposes that the democrats will create fraudulent mail-in votes (pretending they were missed or failed to arrive for counting on Election Day), as well as somehow throwing out republican votes in order to to win.
Major news outlets would then supposedly not announce the result on Election Night should President Trump win (unlike prior elections). If President Trump later fraudulently lost the election, his objections would be supposedly easier to dismiss.
Democrat politicians and major news outlets would then focus on President Trump “refusing to accept the results of the election;” dismissing accusations of voter fraud by President Trump and his supporters as an excuse or lie to keep him in office.
Now, Twitter has taken action that may have not only firmly flung in the face of the executive order, but any claim to being bipartisan in the 2020 US Election.
The Hunter & Joe Biden-Ukraine Scandal, and The New York Post’s “Smoking Gun”
The New York Post reported [1, 2] on October 14th that Robert Hunter Biden, son of Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden, had introduced his father to a Burisma Holdings executive. Two of these emails would later be obtained by Fox News.
This was despite Biden’s denial that he had “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” He had also allegedly attempted to use his father’s position as Vice President at the time (in the New York Post’s words) “in a bid to boost his pay from a Ukrainian natural gas company.”
Editor’s Note: For clarity and in the rest of this article, Robert Hunter Biden will be referred to as “Hunter,” while Joe Biden will be referred to as “Biden.”
As previously reported, during the September 2019 Trump-Ukraine scandal, a whistleblower claimed Trump had attempted to solicit the help of the Ukrainian government, to find evidence that Biden had attempted to blackmail Ukrainian officials into clearing his son of any wrongdoing in the Burisma Holdings investigations.
After the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, Ukrainian oligarch and former politician Mykola Zlochevsky was accused of money laundering, along with his company Burisma Holdings. Hunter had served on the board of Burisma Holdings until April 2019.
In October 2019, the Trump campaign took an advert on Facebook, claiming Biden had paid $1 billion to Ukrainian officials fire the prosecutor investigating Burisma Holdings. When Biden’s campaign attempted to have the advert taken down, Facebook denied them. A second Facebook advert by an independent political party was also appealed against.
The New York Post shared alleged emails that had been obtained from what is purportedly Hunter’s laptop. It had been sent into a repair shop, but the laptop had a sticker from the Beau Biden Foundation. The customer who bought it in never paid or attempted to retrieve it in April 2019, and the FBI later seized it in December that year once alerted by the repair shop’s owner.
Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Trump, told The Post about this in late September 2019. The shop’s owner had made a copy of the hard drive, and gave it to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello. Giuliani gave a copy to The Post on October 11th.
The alleged emails show Burisma Holdings’ advisor to the board Vadym Pozharskyi ask Hunter (May 12th, 2014) to use his “influence to convey a message / signal, etc .to stop” Zlochevsky being harassed by “representatives of new authorities in power” for money.
Hunter asked for more details, and would reportedly then added to the company’s board of directors that same day. He was reportedly placed in charge of its “legal unit and will provide support for the Company among international organizations.”
Allegedly Hunter then emailed then-business partner and fellow board member Devon Archer (April 13th), stating “my guy” (allegedly referring to Biden) would use a then upcoming trip to see Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk to discuss the matter (April 22nd). This meeting would be discussed in a conference call between Burisma Holdings and White House officials.
Hunter also allegedly asked Archer to “Buy a cell phone from a 7/11 or CVS tmrw and ill do the same.” He had also allegedly stated to Archer “This could be the break we have been waiting for if they really are smart enough to understand our long term value. If they are looking to just use us until the storm passes then we risked far too much for far too little.”
Hunter also allegedly stated a contract before “my guy” arrived would need to be signed, with “a retainer in the range of 25k p/m w/ additional fees where appropriate.”
Pozharskyi would thank Hunter for introducing him to Biden April 17th in the alleged third email on April 17th. Eight months after this was when Biden supposedly threatened Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that he would cancel a $1 billion USD loan to the Ukraine unless the prosecutor was fired.
The articles by The Post also include family photos of Hunter, along with more intimate photos with his shirt off, and what appears to be him sleeping with a crack pipe in his mouth.
The laptop also reportedly contained (in The Post’s words) “a raunchy, 12-minute video that appears to show Hunter, who’s admitted struggling with addiction problems, smoking crack while engaged in a sex act with an unidentified woman, as well as numerous other sexually explicit images.” A senate committee would later begin investigating the contents of the laptop.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to @DailyDigger19 for most of the following information.
Facebook and Twitter Censor the Story
Due to the nature of the story, it quickly spread like wildfire on social media. “Hunter Biden” was reportedly trending on Twitter as well. However, Facebook announced it would prevent users from sharing the story [1, 2]. Facebook Communications Director Andy Stone tweeted the following.
“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. This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review.”
Soon after, users on Twitter found themselves unable to tweet the URL of the story [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], including the Editor of the Post Sohrab Ahmari. This writer also tested this, and found himself unable to tweet the URL. Retweeting the story also prompted users to read the article before they could retweet it. “Headlines don’t tell the full story.”
Tweets with a link to the article also began to be deleted, “shadow-deleted” so the user could still see it, interrupting the link with a prompt saying it was “unsafe” (something this writer has also seen first-hand), suspending users [1, 2] for “distributing hacked material,” and demanding users delete their tweet.
The Post’s business reporter Noah Manskar later claimed “The Post’s primary Twitter account (@nypost) has also been locked.” Others may also have had their accounts locked for sharing the link, allegedly including outspoken Republican and voice actor for Hades in Kingdom Hearts James Woods, and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnay.
Twitter reportedly issued a statement to journalists, stating “Given the lack of authoritative reporting on the origins of the materials included in the article, we’re taking action to limit the spread of information.”
They further state the link was in violation of their Hacker Material Policy (forbidding distribution of hacked content with private information that may put people in harm, or contain trade secrets).
Twitter would later publicly state “The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules.”
While the images themselves contain no such information, the alleged emails do feature email addresses. These email addresses would later be proven as legitimate by Intelligence X. The Post also did not obtain their story via hacking, as users have attempted to point out. This resulted in one journalist having his account locked.
While apologizing that Twitter’s “communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great,” Dorsey revealed users had been prevented from sending the link to one another in direct messaging.
It should be noted that Biden had hired former Facebook Regulatory Director and Associate General Counsel Jessica Hertz and former Twitter Director of Public Policy Carlos Monje for his transition team this year.
President Trump and the Republicans React
To counter Twitter’s apparent censorship, the House Judiciary Committee Republicans republished the story on their website. President Trump also tweeted the following while linking to a CNBC article on the story.
“So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!”
Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh also issued the following statement via the Trump Campaign official website, claiming the Biden campaign did not dispute the authenticity of the emails.
“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. And if Joe Biden never met with Vadym Pozharskyi, the Biden campaign would say so. They do not say that. Their answer basically is that the entry ‘Meeting with Ukrainian businessman buying access to the Vice President’ does not appear on Joe Biden’s official schedule. Their response is so carefully worded that it reveals the truth in what they don’t deny. They also don’t address the overarching question of why Joe Biden lied to the American people about never discussing with Hunter Biden his corrupt business dealings with the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. Americans deserve a full accounting of the conversations Joe Biden had with Hunter, and what Joe Biden discussed with Vadym Pozharskyi.”
In a statement issued to The Post, Biden Campaign representatives stated there were no meetings on Biden’s “official schedules” in 2015 with Pozharskyi. Speaking to Politico, Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates stated “we have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place.”
“Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as ‘not legitimate’ and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath,”
Bates reportedly added that the campaign could not respond to the allegation immediately, as The 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 Post stated in their coverage “The Joe Biden campaign did not return requests for comment.”
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