On Wednesday, Twitter and Facebook banned their users from sharing a link to an explosive report from the New York Post containing emails indicating Hunter Biden had lucratively monetized his father’s vice presidency through international business dealings. A massive public relations disaster ensued, including fierce reactions from senators and members of Congress with tech oversight.
In response, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey claimed Twitter had banned the link because it included private information obtained through hacking.
— jack (@jack) October 14, 2020
The policy, established in 2018, prohibits the use of our service to distribute content obtained without authorization. We don’t want to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be used as distribution for possibly illegally obtained materials.https://t.co/qx9rlzWH4O
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) October 14, 2020
The company claims these statements aim to provide “clarity” about its policies. But they actually make the tech giant seem even more duplicitous. They are retreating behind technicalities of their policy while continuing to allow links to hacked information, classified information, illegally released information, fake news, and debunked conspiracy theories proliferate on the platform.
Due to the obvious selective bias employed in the major instances below, however, it is clear that Twitter’s technicality is a fig leaf to enable continued control of public discourse by an unelected private industry that is 9-to-1 in the tank for Democrats and can decide what Americans are allowed to know.
YOU SHOULD NOT BE INTERFERING IN ELECTIONS ON BEHALF OF YOUR PREFERRED CANDIDATE PERIOD.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 15, 2020
Twitter did not even censor the Ayatollah’s tweets calling for genocide of the Israeli people.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) October 14, 2020
1. President Trump’s Call with the Ukrainian President
An illegal leak of a “whistleblower” complaint about President Trump’s classified conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky led to his impeachment. The New York Times reported Rep. Adam Schiff learned about the complaint before it was filed. That was classified information. So was the call itself, yet information about it was selectively leaked to media outlets to prompt congressional inquiry.
Besides their use of intelligence as a political weapon to thwart the opposing party, these leaks of the classified conversation harmed national security by alerting foreign leaders that any conversations they have with an American president could be made public at any time. Corporate media outlets reported all this leaked and classified information with neither legal penalties nor throttling from Facebook and Twitter.
2. President Trump’s Tax Returns
Last month, the New York Times published President Trump’s personal tax returns, which it illegally obtained. Tax and all financial records are legally protected private information. It is a crime to release them. As accountant Ryan Ellis writes,
It is a federal crime for any federal, state, or local government employee to release a tax return without the consent of the taxpayer. Ditto for tax lawyers, CPAs, enrolled agents, and other tax professionals. Interestingly, it’s also illegal to print or publish tax returns or information from them. Section 7213 of the Internal Revenue Code prescribes that each violation here is a felony punishable by $5,000 and/or five years in federal prison, plus the cost of prosecution. Federal employees so convicted are to lose their jobs.
This criminally leaked private information is still available all over Twitter and Facebook.
NYT reporter whose paper just published Trump's leaked tax docs (a crime), questions sourcing of story on Biden.
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) October 14, 2020
Twitter amplified and distributed the New York Times' story based on what the paper itself claimed was surreptitious obtaining of Trump's tax forms. The Times refused to say who stole those forms and shared them with the paper. TWITTER is LYING. https://t.co/tO19kzev8T
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 15, 2020
3. Michael Flynn Phone Call
As incoming National Security Advisor to the Trump administration, Michael Flynn had a classified phone call with Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergei Kislyak. The contents of that phone call were illegally leaked to the press. Neither Twitter nor Facebook censored that information.
The leak of the Flynn phone call was part of a bigger pattern of high-ranking Obama administration officials surveilling their political opponents using intelligence agencies and the practice of “unmasking,” or identifying the American citizens caught up in supposed surveillance of foreign citizens. The unmasking scandal implicates President Obama and Joe Biden. “The identities [of the umaskers] are important because they may shed light on which officials illegally leaked information about Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak to journalists at the Washington Post,” wrote Sean Davis for The Federalist.
The leak of unmasked information is a felony. Yet it is fair to say such illegal leaks have led U.S. domestic and sometimes foreign policy around by the nose for the last four years. Twitter and Facebook have throttled none of the information divulged this way. In fact, one could say the social media frenzy they hosted over such illegally released classified information has driven domestic policy for four years.
4. The Steele Dossier Used to Set Up Russiagate
Before it was revealed to be a collection of wild allegations dreamed up by a bunch of Russian drinking buddies, the Christopher Steele anti-Trump “dossier” was published by BuzzFeed when it was also private information circulating among U.S. intelligence agencies, senators, and the White House. Now we know that the gossip file was used as a pretext for surveillance of an opposition political party and funded by a Democrat Party presidential campaign. But at the time it was considered private and sensitive information, and was at one point classified.
The dossier and the investigations and surveillance based on it have now been definitively proven to be a hoax, a hoax that has consumed tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and major government energy for four years. Both when it was considered sensitive information under review by U.S. intelligence agencies and now that it has been proven to be a collection of baseless smears, Twitter and Facebook have done nothing to impede the “dossier’s” circulation or the circulation of media reports based on its contents. Again, one can in fact easily argue their platforms assisted its baseless smears in becoming a pretext for impeding an elected president’s execution of his duties.
5. Donald Trump Jr. WikiLeaks Emails
In 2017, corporate media reported that Donald Trump Jr. had received advance warning that WikiLeaks was about to release Hillary Clinton’s emails. This was supposedly a smoking gun proving that President Trump and his campaign had coordinated with WikiLeaks to use stolen information to attack Clinton. Except it wasn’t true.
It was subsequently found that the date on this email to Trump Jr. had been manipulated. In fact, he had only gotten the information at the same time the rest of the world did, when WikiLeaks publicly released Clinton’s emails. There was no smoking gun. It was a false story.
It was suspicious from the beginning, as the initial reporting from MSNBC came from anonymous sources and had to be somehow obtained deceitfully, as Trump Jr. certainly didn’t release his private emails. Twitter and Facebook did nothing to impede the spread of this unverifiable, hacked, and private information.
6. Atlantic Claims of Trump Badmouthing Military
In early September, The Atlantic published claims of President Trump badmouthing fallen American soldiers based on the word of four unnamed sources. It was immediately contradicted by documentary evidence and 21 witnesses on the record, including those otherwise hostile to Trump. Twitter and Facebook did nothing to impede the spread of The Atlantic’s unverified and contested claim.
7. The Atlantic Story About a Shooting that Never Happened
In July, a Federalist investigation found that The Atlantic had published a false story about an unprovoked police shooting of a child in Saint Louis, Mo. Uncovered evidence demonstrated that the shooting could not have happened as author Derecka Purnell claimed. The Atlantic later corrected the article, implicitly acknowledging its original false reporting of key material facts.
Facebook and Twitter have never throttled either the link to the story, or links to The Atlantic in general, despite its repeated false reporting.
8. Secretly Recorded Audio of Trump
In addition to filtering for political disinfo, Twitter says they're blocking NY Post Hunter Biden story because they block stories with stolen info. Easy enough to test. Let's see if they allow link to a story in the NY Post on secret audio tape of Trump. https://t.co/JoaR9dTKOP
— Omri Ceren (@omriceren) October 14, 2020
9. Secret Recordings of Melania Trump
Neither did Twitter nor Facebook censor or shut down any sharing of information derived from secret recordings of Melania Trump by a disloyal acquaintance. This year, a woman monetized private interactions with Melania by secretly recording her and then selling the obtained information through the media for a “tell-all” book deal.
“Tell-alls” like these are their own genre in the Trump era, and Facebook and Twitter have done precisely nothing to restrict innuendo, slander, gossip, and unsubstantiated wild accusations from any person who makes herself available, perhaps more notoriously including John Bolton, Mary Trump, and Claudia Conway.
10. Enabling Attacks on Public Officials and Right-Leaning News Figures
In 2018, the home of the nation’s No. 1 cable news host was surrounded by a threatening mob that vandalized it while his wife hid inside alone. Twitter took several hours to remove Tucker Carlson’s home address from its platform, where it had been posted by an Antifa activist during the mob activity. The activist also posted the home addresses of Carlson’s brother, Fox News host Sean Hannity, and pundit Ann Coulter.
After repeated mob threats, the Carlsons moved to a new home. The New York Times threatened to disclose its location earlier this year.
When Antifa protesters also publicly posted the address of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home and surrounded it, threatening him and his wife while he recuperated from surgery, Twitter banned McConnell from posting videos of the mob, and allowed the hashtag “#MassacreMitch” to trend for an entire weekend.
GatewayPundit’s Cristina Laila noted, “Democrat Rep. Joaquin Castro doxxed Trump donors in his district and posted the names to Twitter and no action was taken against Castro’s account.”
11. False Major Media Smears of Nicholas Sandmann
In 2019, video of a teen smiling at an older man who circled the boy while banging a drum went viral on social media and quickly drove a news cycle that included corporate media depicting the young man as a disrespectful racist. Media rushed to give the drum-banging man, Nathan Phillips, a platform for defamation against the teen, Nicholas Sandmann.
As Margot Cleveland notes in her analysis of a subsequent legal settlement, “by the time Phillips’ story had been debunked, Sandmann had been doxed, with his name and image plastered across America as a symbol of bigotry. CNN alone, according to Sandmann’s complaint, made “no less than four false and defamatory television broadcasts, nine false and defamatory internet articles, and four false and defamatory tweets of and concerning Nicholas.”
Big Tech is doing more to protect an aging, career politician running for President from a scandal than they did to protect a child attending the March for Life from libel.
— Margot Cleveland (@ProfMJCleveland) October 14, 2020
Twitter and Facebook did nothing to halt or question the stampede to ruin a young man’s life based on lies and prejudice. All these stories are just representative. There are many more, such as this:
These two massive global information companies did nothing in all the cases above to make editorial judgments of a similar kind the two are now suddenly applying on behalf of the Biden campaign. False information, hacked information, private information, and more have clearly not caused Facebook and Twitter to choke questionable news stories — so long as the agitprop they accelerate harms President Trump.
In fact, their platforms have helped all this gossip and misinformation drive American governance, crowding out more substantive national priorities, including the priorities of the tens of millions of voters who chose a president and party the unelected leaders of these private companies oppose.