Twitter blocked users from sharing a potentially false New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s relationship with Ukraine Tuesday afternoon so that fact-checkers can determine the article’s veracity.
The site issued a warning that it “can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful.”
BREAKING: Twitter has blocked the NY Post article about Hunter Biden. If you attempt to share the story, you will see this message:
"We can't complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful." pic.twitter.com/TWaTKzvtQP
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 14, 2020
In a statement, the social network said that the ban falls “in line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs” and that it is “taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter.”
Statement from Twitter:
"In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter.”https://t.co/Y1wsv2Kfgr
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 14, 2020
Facebook, meanwhile, announced that it would “reduce distribution” of the hit piece while fact-checkers do their due diligence.
“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,” Facebook’s Policy Communication Director Andy Stone tweeted. “This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review.”
This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review. https://t.co/vf3CBvLmjj
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
The article alleges that Vadym Pozharskiy, an adviser to Burisma Holdings, sent Biden – the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden – an email thanking him for giving him the opportunity to meet with the former vice president. Biden once sat on the board of Burisma, a Ukranian natural gas company.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together,” Pozharskiy allegedly wrote to Biden on April 17, 2015. “It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure.”
The email was part of a stack of documents purportedly dumped to the Post – a right-wing Rupert Murdoch tabloid – by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, President Donald Trump’s TV attorney.
The Biden presidential campaign denies any such meeting ever took place.
“We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” a spokesman told Politico.
Republicans hoping to cash in on the Biden-Burisma relationship were outraged that Twitter and Facebook had the gall to do their homework.
“I want to know on what grounds you are actively censoring a news report about potentially illegal corruption by the Democrat candidate for president,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted to Facebook. “If you have evidence this is “disinformation,” disclose it immediately. Expect a formal inquiry from my office.”
.@Facebook I want to know on what grounds you are actively censoring a news report about potentially illegal corruption by the Democrat candidate for president. If you have evidence this is “disinformation,” disclose it immediately. Expect a formal inquiry from my office
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 14, 2020
Whether the email is legitimate is not yet known.
Recall that Trump was impeached for trying to extort Ukraine into a scheme to disparage Biden’s character and hurt his father’s chances in the election. This raises some questions, not the least of which is why Giuliani and former White House adviser Steve Bannon reportedly sat on this information for months, never making a peep about it during Trump’s impeachment.
If there is any truth to it, it could strike a huge blow to the former veep’s campaign, which has maintained that his son’s business relationship with Ukraine was not politically advantageous.
So far, Biden’s dealings with Burisma have not been found to contain anything clandestine.
But this is 2020, and given the slew of October surprises dropped on the country in 2016 around this time, anything is possible.
Most notably, the October 28, 2016 revelation that former FBI Director James Comey had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee for president, is widely credited with costing her the election, despite no evidence of wrongdoing or any criminal activity.
The optics alone were enough to hand the presidency to Trump. It could happen again, however unlikely it may be.
Twenty days until the election.
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.