Facebook and Twitter are blocking a New York Post article that revealed emails not only from Joe Biden’s son Hunter, but also the former vice president himself, pointing to the reality he was likely involved in his son’s shady business with Ukraine. While Facebook significantly reduced the reach of the posts, Twitter essentially prevented it from being shared in any manner.
It is a completely scandalous practice against which even Russian propagandists look like a bunch of losers.
Facebook claims to have limited the reach of the posts because the article may contain some lies. Hired “fact-checkers” are currently going through it, and until it turns out that everything is in order, the social network will continue to limit its reach. Twitter went even further and stated it had doubts about the origin of the emails referred to by the New York Post.
This argument is wrong for two reasons. In the first place, Twitter has no right to judge the relevance of journalistic sources, and secondly, there has likely been no forgery as emails from the same email address have been sent to politicians in the past.
The problem is also a blatantly different approach of both social media companies to various opinions. Given the tabloid nature of the New York Post, it is likely that some journalists will turn their noses up and not even try to pretend to verify the authenticity of the emails or, God forbid, even bother to actually pay attention to Biden’s son’s case.
The reality is that we would not expect Twitter or Facebook to examine the relevance of leaked documents published by news outlets such as The New York Times. The platforms certainly did bother to hide information illegally obtained in the past, such as Donald Trump’s tax returns or hacked information obtained by Edward Snowden. One might recall a recent fake story, allegedly from the Times, that Senator Elizabeth Warren supported Bernie Sanders in the presidential race. Before it was discovered to be pure fake news, the article received 15,000 shares on Facebook alone.
What is also strange about the current affair is that Twitter still allows people to share another story that relies on leaked emails. Specifically, it is an accusation that Biden’s son tried to close a lucrative deal with the Chinese CEFC company. In this case, Twitter did not mind the emails. The only difference was that the article did not directly feature presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The behavior of the tech giants shows that we are slowly getting into a situation that I have been warning about for a long time. There is a suspicion that Facebook, Twitter, and Google are pursuing their political goals and are no longer even hesitating to do so. Hunter Biden’s case is now the ultimate confirmation of such assumptions. If we allow these tech giants to continue this practice, we are moving from democracy to unrelenting corporatism, in which politics is controlled by the unelected board of a few companies. Politicians would then become just puppets who carry out their interests.
That is a significantly greater danger than, for example, Russian propaganda. The country may try to spread misinformation through several posts or websites, but compared to Google, Facebook, or Twitter, its reach is incomparably low.
On top of that, let’s admit it, Russian propaganda is often not very smart or sophisticated.
However, technology giants do not have to make any special efforts. All they have to do is choose what their user should or should not see. We must prevent this, and we have all the tools in hand. We have to implement strict regulations on them, which is common in many other critically important segments of the economy.
Title image: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies remotely during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Washington. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)