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Twitter has had a busy week — perhaps even busier than when a colossal hack took over the site this past summer.

On Wednesday, the New York Post, owned by Fox News mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, published a dubious report purporting to show evidence that Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden, was in cahoots with a Ukrainian official. You can read a digestible timeline of the erratic series of events spelled out in the article here. (The FBI is now investigating whether the emails were part of a foreign intelligence operation.) 

Though the story was riddled with holes, Republicans swiftly latched onto it as affirmation of conspiracy theories they’ve long pedaled involving the Biden family and Ukraine. The publication also faced criticism from some who feared the story was designed to spread disinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. 

As users began to share the story on Twitter, the company responded by banning the URL from being tweeted, therefore limiting how many people could read it, without offering an explanation as to why. The company locked the Trump campaign’s official Twitter account, @TeamTrump, after it referred to the NY Post story. White House spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany’s account was also suspended.

Facebook’s response to the New York Post article was similar: The company said it would restrict the reach of the article on its platform until a third-party fact-checked its contents. However, the article was still shared nearly 300,000 times on the platform following Facebook’s announcement, as Business Insider’s Paige Leskin reported.

It wasn’t until later Thursday night that Twitter explained itself, saying that it banned the article for violating its policies around how hacked materials are shared. It’s the same reasoning given in June when Twitter banned a group that released a hoard of police documents that were originally obtained by hackers. 

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has since said it was “wrong” to ban the NY Post story. But the damage was already done. GOP Senators now plan to subpoena Dorsey to testify regarding the issue, and Republicans have more fodder to feed their long-held, often-disproven belief that Big Tech is biased against conservatives.

The whole debacle is a prime example of the power that tech platforms wield and the potential danger that can result when they make inconsistent decisions in enforcing moderation policies. The incident also comes in the midst of the most important presidential elections in modern US history.

Twitter did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Adding fuel to the partisan fire

Social media critics have been calling with greater urgency this year for companies, including Facebook, to make changes that would prevent election interference. Twitter has taken a series of steps to crack down on the spread of misleading content and has been fighting to consistently limit the spread of disinformation through its moderation policies.

But Twitter didn’t quite showcase said cohesive moderation plan with Wednesday’s ban.

What Twitter did do was add to a growing fire …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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