The New York Post, America’s oldest continuously published newspaper, posted a bombshell exposé on Oct. 14 revealing leaked emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop regarding him and his former employer, Burisma, a Ukrainian energy firm. A message dated April 17, 2015 from Vadym Pozharskyi, advisor to the board of Burisma, showed him thanking Hunter for introducing him to his father, Joe Biden. This flew in the face of Joe Biden’s repeated denial of involving himself with his son’s work, once having stated “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.” The Post also claimed to have discovered a message from 2014 in which an executive from Burisma inquired Hunter about “advice on how you could use your influence” to the benefit of the company. That same year, Hunter was hired onto Burisma’s board of directors for $50 thousand a month despite no prior experience in the energy sector. Four days later, the Biden campaign has yet to contest the veracity of any of the emails mentioned.
All of this — among other information entailed in The Post’s exposé — should have been the story of the month. Except for the fact that Twitter, one of the biggest, most widely used social media platforms in the nation, almost immediately disabled the link to the article from all accounts attempting to disseminate it. They were soon followed by Facebook, the number one most used social media site in the world.
The New York Post, a pioneer of the American media founded by Alexander Hamilton, was instantly silenced as they had their account locked, along with several widely followed accounts promoting the article, including the personal account of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the official account for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, despite this being only 19 days prior to Election Day.
Why would Twitter censor such a shocking report and combat all attempts at sharing it might you ask? And why would it be so vital they do so that they would go so far as to silence the campaign of the incumbent President with a looming national election, just to prevent its dissemination? The tech giant cited them and The Post as having violated their rule against “posting private information.”
For those familiar with the happenings of Twitter, this might be an eyebrow-raising excuse, given that private citizens are regularly doxxed on Twitter, often in front of audiences of millions, and often including such sensitive information as names, license plates, workplaces and even home addresses, with few to no penalties.
Spokespeople for Twitter, including CEO Jack Dorsey, later followed this up saying the article violated their policy on hacked materials. Disregarding that Twitter referred to no evidence suggesting the revealed material in the Post’s article was obtained through hacking, this new defense would be equally abnormal for Twitter, considering they have regularly been used as a platform for such groups as WikiLeaks and Anonymous for years, and illegally obtained information such as President Trump’s tax returns.
So why is it that Twitter has gone through so much trouble to censor this report? Why is it that while they allow actual propaganda to be disseminated from accounts of foreign governments such as Iran and China, they would cut off the President’s campaign and officials of the White House over rules they almost universally ignore?
Twitter, among other social media giants, has often been accused of political bias, and of disproportionately applying their rules against conservative users. Though spokespeople for Twitter vehemently deny this, Dorsey has admitted that his conservative employees “don’t feel safe to express their opinions,” and that the company predominantly employs and is run by left-leaning individuals. Dorsey’s predecessor, Dick Costolo even recently took to Twitter saying “Me-first capitalists who think you can separate society from business are going to be the first people lined up against the wall and shot,” adding he would “happily provide video commentary.” It’s worth noting this post was not met with any action from Twitter.
Regardless of whether or not one aligns themselves with The New York Post or conservatism, it is undeniable how much power social media platforms like Twitter hold over public discourse. The $10 billion company includes 22% of the American adult population as users according to Pew, and 262 million users outside the U.S., easily competing with mainstream outlets like CNN, Fox and MSNBC as a source of information.
Moguls such as Jack Dorsey have unmitigated power over public opinion. They can dictate the veracity of any material without justification, and they can strike down even the most popular and impactful content with the push of a button. Though it is hotly debated between the right and left whether companies such as Twitter, Facebook and others use their platforms as influencers, it is abundantly clear they have the capacity to do so if they wish.