Twitter Shifts Policy on Blocking Links After Outrage Over Biden Article

A pedestrian walks across the street from the Twitter office building in San Francisco last year. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

(CN) — Twitter announced Friday that it will change its policy around hacked information after its decision to block users from sharing an unverified New York Post exposé about Hunter Biden sparked outrage among conservatives.

Enforcing a policy put in place in 2018 to discourage harm associated with hacks and exposure of private information, Twitter blocked users from sharing the article in tweets and direct messages on Wednesday and Thursday after questions arose about the veracity of the claims made in the story.

The article, published Wednesday morning, allegedly tied Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to his son’s role on the board of Ukrainian energy firm Burisma. The article cited unverified emails which were allegedly taken from a laptop that once belonged to Hunter Biden.

The story has not been confirmed by other publications.

Twitter said it blocked the link because it contained images of hacked material and personal private information, including emails and phone numbers.

The site’s actions prompted immediate backlash from conservatives who said Twitter was exhibiting anti-conservative bias.

Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham announced Thursday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote next week on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to testify about Twitter’s enforcement actions.

“Our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great,” Dorsey tweeted Wednesday evening. “And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we’re blocking: unacceptable.”

Vijay Gadde – Twitter’s head of legal, policy, trust and safety – said Thursday that the social media giant “will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them.”

She added that Twitter will add context labels to tweets linking to hacked materials rather than blocking users from sharing them completely.

“We believe that labeling Tweets and empowering people to assess content for themselves better serves the public interest and public conversation,” Gadde said.

The site wanted to “address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter’s purpose of serving the public conversation,” she added.

President Donald Trump shared numerous tweets to his official Twitter account Wednesday and Thursday criticizing Twitter’s handling of the Post story.

The president also shared a link Friday to a satirical article about Twitter shutting down to slow the spread of negative news about Biden, apparently unaware that the article was a joke published by satirical news site The Babylon Bee.

“Wow, this has never been done in history,” Trump tweeted. “This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe & Big T.”

The president later clarified that “Big T” referred to “Big Tech,” not to himself.  

The Babylon Bee’s Twitter bio identifies the page as a joke site. Its user bio reads: “Fake news you can trust.”

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