Twitter blocked users from tweeting a New York Post report about Hunter Biden on Wednesday afternoon and soon after locked the Post‘s account, in a growing trend by predominantly left-wing technology companies to ban content with which they disagree.
"@Twitter has locked @nypost," Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) tweeted. "Has Twitter ever locked the account of a major news outlet? Why is Twitter attacking the free press?"
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 14, 2020
Hours before, Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) tweeted that Twitter had disabled the link to the story and denounced the social media platform for choosing to "act as Biden's PR team."
I don’t know if the allegations are true—Qs that deserve to be answered.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 14, 2020
Other users who tried to click on the link were prevented and told the story might be "potentially spammy or unsafe."
Twitter later told the Post the account was locked because the New York Post had broken the social network's rules against "distribution of hacked material."
"In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. They also said the New York Post‘s reporting lacked corroboration.
The news comes after Facebook also moved to suppress the story before it was fact-checked.
"While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear [sic] that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners," Facebook communications director Andy Stone tweeted this morning. "In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform."
Stone defended the move, saying it was Facebook's policy to "temporarily reduce" the reach of content that may be false.
The New York Post reported that emails from 2015 show Hunter Biden, who was on the board of a Ukrainian gas company, introduced an executive at the company to his father Joe Biden, then the vice president. The introduction took place a little less than a year before Joe Biden pressured Ukraine's president and prime minister to fire a prosecutor who was investigating the company. The report contradicts Joe Biden's longstanding claim that he never discussed his son's business dealings with him.
The Biden campaign responded to the report by saying the former vice president had no meetings with the executive on his "official schedules."
Hawley announced in a subsequent tweet that he was asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether the move by the social media giant violated campaign finance or election laws. And Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) also announced investigations based on the report.