FACT CHECK: AOC Says Twitter Censorship of Hunter's Laptop Was '24-Hour Hiccup'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images
February 8, 2023

Claim: Twitter's censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020 was a "24-hour hiccup."

Who said it: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), who has made a career off complaining about insignificant slights against her on social media.

Why it matters: Ocasio-Cortez and other Democrats are downplaying the electoral impact of Twitter's decision to block users from sharing the laptop story—which included unflattering revelations about President Joe Biden and his family's business activities—in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

Context: The House Oversight Committee, led by Republican Rep. James Comer (Ky.), is investigating whether Twitter inappropriately aided the Biden campaign by suppressing the New York Post's bombshell story about the laptop, which included information about Hunter Biden's shady foreign business deals and attempts to cash in on his father's political position.

A former senior Twitter official told the committee on Wednesday that the company initially suspected the Post's story was based on "Russian disinformation," an allegation that was also promoted by many Biden supporters. This claim was later found to be baseless, and the former Twitter official said he now believes the censorship was a "mistake."

Analysis: Twitter blocked users from sharing the Post's article almost immediately after it was published on Oct. 14, saying it had concerns about the "origins of the materials" and citing the company's anti-hacking policy. The social media site also froze the Post's Twitter account on Oct. 14 after the paper tweeted and refused to delete a link to its article.

Twitter lifted the link ban and allowed users to tweet the article two days later, on Oct. 16. The social media site refused to reinstate the Post's Twitter account until Oct. 30, however—16 days after the article was initially posted.

Sixteen days is longer than 24 hours, so AOC's claim that the censorship was a one-day "hiccup" is not accurate.

Furthermore, Twitter's actions fed into the now-debunked claim that the Post's report was based on "Russian disinformation," discouraging many Americans from taking the news seriously in the crucial days leading up to the election. This claim likely caused additional damage that carried on long after the company lifted its official bans.

Verdict: We rate this claim 4 Clintons.
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