Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, says the company wrongly blocked web links to an unconfirmed political story about US presidential candidate Joe Biden and his family because it responded to criticism of the treatment of the story that led to shouts of censorship.
- The New York Post posted emails and photos allegedly taken by Hunter Biden
- Twitter initially responded by banning users from sharing a link on the story, but didn’t tell them why
- Instead of blocking links from being shared, tweets are marked as context
Twitter and Facebook had moved swiftly this week to limit the spread of the story published by the conservative New York Post, which quoted unconfirmed emails from the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, reportedly by President Donald’s allies Trump were discovered.
“Directly blocking URLs was wrong and we updated our policies and enforcement measures to address this,” Dorsey tweeted.
“Our goal is to try to add context and now we have the opportunity to do that.”
Twitter initially responded by banning users from sharing links to the article in tweets and direct messages, as doing so violated the company’s policy that bans hacked content.
However, it wasn’t until hours later that users were informed why they couldn’t share the link.
But by Friday (local time) people could post the links again.
Twitter said this was because the “once private” information in the article was now “widely available” in the press and on other platforms.
It served as a demonstration of how quickly things can change regarding social media, misinformation, and the upcoming US election as companies try to navigate unprecedented times.
Mr Dorsey spoke out after a senior executive at the social media company announced changes to its hacked content policy after a storm of criticism.
Twitter will no longer remove hacked material unless shared directly by hackers or those who work with them, Vijaya Gadde, the company’s legal, policy, trust and safety director, said on a Twitter thread.
And instead of preventing links from being shared, tweets are flagged as context, Ms. Gadde said.
The story has not been confirmed by other publications.
Mr Dorsey first tweeted that it was “unacceptable” that the company had failed to provide additional context for its action.
A little over 24 hours later, Ms. Gadde announced that the company was making changes after receiving “significant feedback” [from critical to supportive]“About how it enforced the directive.
Facebook said it “reduced” the spread of the story on its platform while waiting for third-party fact checkers to verify it. It does this regularly with material that is not directly banned from its service, although it carries the risk of spreading lies or causing harm in other ways.
Since then, Mr. Trump has started incorporating Twitter’s action into his campaign events, asking his supporters to post a message on election day to what he called “censorship”.
“We’re not just running against Joe Biden. We run against left media and against big tech, ”said Trump.
AP / ABC
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