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Republicans lash out at Twitter and Facebook over Hunter Biden article

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Some Republican lawmakers lashed out at Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday over the platforms’ decisions to limit the spread of a New York Post story about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden. 

The GOP lawmakers characterized the moves as censorship and renewed their allegations that social media platforms have an anti-conservative bias.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent letters to both Facebook and Twitter over their decisions to clamp down on the spread of the article. 

“I find this behavior stunning but not surprising from a platform that has censored the President of the United States,” Hawley wrote to Twitter, seemingly referencing occasions when the platform has added labels to President Trump’s posts over misinformation. 

“This statement raises questions about the applicability of your policy, especially because such a pre-emptive removal of a news story on such grounds—and the additional scrutiny you have applied—appears to be an unusual intervention that is not universally applied to all content,” Hawley added.

His letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey followed an earlier, similar letter he sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the decision to limit the spread of the Post’s story. 

Trump piled on and renewed his call to “REPEAL SECTION 230,” referring to a clause that protects social media platforms from being held liable for what is posted on their websites. 

“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!!!” the president tweeted.

Twitter prevented users from sharing links to the story in tweets or direct messages. A spokesperson for the company said the decision was made based on the platform’s hacked materials policy. 

Facebook earlier in the day took action to limit the spread of the article, but the platform offered few details regarding those steps. 

“While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want [to] 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,” policy communications manager Andy Stone tweeted.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) also sent a letter to Twitter and publicly bashed both social media giants over their decisions to limit the spread of the story about Hunter Biden. 

“Twitter’s censorship of this story is quite hypocritical,” Cruz wrote, accusing it of being an “obvious and transparent attempt by Twitter to influence the upcoming Presidential election.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, similarly accused the companies of trying to “help the Democrats” through their moves to limit the spread of the story, which had sparked questions over its sourcing. 

“Big Tech claims they aren’t biased against Conservatives.  So why are they suppressing speech to help the Democrats?” Jordan tweeted. “Section 230!”

House Judiciary Republicans also shared the story through the committee’s website after Twitter blocked users from tweeting the link. 

The New York Post’s story published Wednesday includes allegations about Joe Biden and Ukraine that hinge on an email reportedly retrieved from the hard drive of a laptop dropped off at a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019.

An unnamed store owner, who reportedly could not identify the individual who dropped off the computer, is said to have provided a copy of the hard drive to the attorney of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor who also acts as Trump’s personal lawyer, before it was seized by the FBI. 

The Biden campaign told Politico in a statement that the Post never asked the campaign about “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,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates told Politico. 

Bates also said the campaign reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedule from the time and that “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 said in the statement. 

Spokespeople for Twitter and Facebook were not immediately available to comment in response to backlash from GOP lawmakers.

Tags Donald Trump Jim Jordan Joe Biden Josh Hawley Mark Zuckerberg Rudy Giuliani Ted Cruz
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