The New York Post dropped a bombshell Wednesday morning.
The report shows a purported email Hunter Biden received from a high-ranking executive at a Ukrainian energy firm thanking him for the introduction to his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, less than a year before the vice president pressured officials to fire a prosecutor for investigating Burisma Holdings. Hunter Biden served on the board of Burisma.
“Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent [sic] some time together. It’s realty [sic] an honor and pleasure,” the email says.
“The blockbuster correspondence — which flies in the face of Joe Biden’s claim that [Vadym Pozharskyi, an adviser to the board of Burisma] has ‘never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings’ — is contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer,” The Post writes.
Americans will remember that the alleged business dealings between Ukraine and Hunter Biden during his time with Burisma led to the infamous phone call between President Donald Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The call eventually convinced the House of Representatives to impeach Trump, though the Senate subsequently acquitted the president.
Because it relates to Joe Biden’s actions as vice president, the Post‘s report could have a significant impact on the election, which is less than three weeks away. Yet Big Tech has stepped in and blocked the story’s online distribution.
Facebook has buried the story, claiming that it’s in the midst of fact-checking it.
“While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post,” Facebook policy communications manager Andy Stone tweets. “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.”
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.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
The decision of these tech giants to keep this story from the masses has quickly drawn criticism.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R – MO) sent a letter to Facebook inquiring about the decision.
“The seemingly selective nature of this public intervention suggests partiality on the part of Facebook,” Hawley said in the letter. “And your efforts to suppress the distribution of content revealing potentially unethical activity by a candidate for president raises a number of additional questions, to which I expect responses immediately.”
If reports are proven to be inaccurate, then they should be removed from social platforms. However, this story has been removed before a fact-check is even complete. It also comes from a reliable outlet, which should give it some credibility.
Stone said Facebook is merely following its “standard process,” but if so, then this process is rife with double standards.
Would Facebook and Twitter take down a negative report about Donald Trump, Jr. from The New York Times if a fact-check is incomplete? Is Big Tech fact-checking the anonymous sources of every media outlet? What does a publication like New York Post need to do to avoid such de facto censorship?
Big Tech has long been criticized for taking political stances favoring the left. In fact, Facebook’s Stone has a “history of working for Democrats, including lefty former Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” according to the NY Post.
Many people wonder if Big Tech should be responsible for what is posted on their platforms at all. In May, Trump signed an executive order curtailing the legal protections that have thus far shielded Big Tech from liability for content posted by users.
“They are not utilities. They are not neutral platforms,” Will Cain tweeted on the topic. “They are publishers making editorial choices. And what is their editorial bias? Click through to his profile. They are not hiding it anymore.”
In the spring, Trump called Twitter an “editor with a viewpoint.” Based on what we have seen today, it looks like he’s right.
Last month, Twitter labeled Jason Whitlock’s OutKick column on Katie Nolan “sexist.” Twitter wasn’t quoting criticism leveled by a news source. Some anonymous Twitter employee made the editorial decision that the column was sexist and labeled it accordingly.
Clay Travis explains the problem with Big Tech making such decisions:
“I own OutKick, but I don’t agree with every opinion on this site. That would be impossible. The only person any one person should agree with completely in this country is yourself. (And even then you should have some doubts.) We are, put simply, a media content company.
“That means we can be sued for editorial malfeasance. It means if we defame anyone, we are subject to legal consequences for our actions. We choose, collectively, which stories go up on the site every day and share them with our audience. With that decision comes responsibility under the law.
“That’s how content companies work. Be they newspapers, TV networks or (most) websites.
“But Twitter claims it is different. Twitter claims to be a platform, not a content company. They only share the opinions of others, they argue not their own opinions. Therefore, Twitter argues, they aren’t responsible for the opinions other people publish on their platform. So long as they are a platform, Twitter, unlike OutKick, bears no legal liability for what is posted on its site.
“But Twitter’s not always telling the truth when they claim they are just a platform, in fact they act in many ways that a publisher would on a regular basis.”
Social media platforms, led by Facebook, are more powerful than any individual’s word or message. We learn what we see. We know what we read. We do what we think. Silicon Valley is attempting to control what we see, read, learn and think and therefore what we do. Their level of power should frighten all Americans, regardless of political ideology.