Twitter announced this Thursday that it will change the policy it had used to block an article from the New York Post against the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden, after being accused of interfering in the elections for the president of the United States, Donald Trump, by his campaign team and by the Republican party. The social network explained that it had blocked the article so that possibly pirated material was not shared, but that it has modified its decision and allowed its dissemination, fearing that this policy would have “unwanted consequences.” With the new criteria, the social network will allow similar content to be shared, accompanied by a label that gives context about the source of the information, as announced The New York Times.
The controversy arose with the publication of a dubious article about the alleged practices of the Democratic candidate, Joe Biden in the New York Post. The newspaper, owned by Rupert Murdoch (owner, among others, of the conservative channel Fox News), accessed through the former mayor of New York and Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, emails and other digital materials allegedly coming from a computer owned by Hunter Biden, son of the candidate. The documentation showed that the son of the Democratic leader would have introduced his father to an executive of the Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings, which he advised and which was being investigated by the then attorney general of Ukraine, Víktor Shokin. Trump and his entourage maintain that the Democratic candidate forced the removal of Shokin through the country’s former president Petro Poroshenko to protect his son.
Twitter, in fact, decided to withdraw the story entirely by claiming that it violated its internal policy against the publication of stolen digital material, since the contents of the computer would have been obtained without the consent of its alleged owner. And not only that: the company shortly afterwards suspended the account of the US president’s re-election campaign for several hours for sharing a video in which he attacked Biden for information that appeared in the New York Post that some have questioned. The ad said that the campaign account had violated Twitter’s “rules against publishing private information,” citing a tweet that accused the Democratic presidential candidate of being a “liar” and “swindling our country for years.”
The company also blocked the personal account of Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, after tweeting the article, and on Thursday it briefly blocked a link to a House Judiciary Committee website.
Then the storm broke out in networks. President Trump entered the game and called Facebook and Twitter “terrible” and “monstrous” and assured that he would go for them. Senators Ted Cruz and Marsha Blackburn said they would subpoena the chief executives of the companies for their actions. And on Fox News, prominent conservative anchors called social media platforms “monopolies” and accused them of “censorship” and election interference.
The case has reached the Upper House. The United States Senate, controlled by the Republican majority, has announced that it will summon Twitter executive director Jack Dorsey for next week for blocking the news, according to Europa Press.
It so happens that Twitter suffered a massive drop overnight Thursday, which was reinstated an hour later. The coincidence of the controversy raised alarms about a possible hack, an extreme that has been ruled out by the company.