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Twitter censored the NY Post for ‘showing direct material’ to back up claims, violated hacked materials policy: Dorsey

NY Times’ Trump tax returns story permissible on Twitter ‘because there was reporting about the material; it wasn’t distributing the material’

Jack Dorsey
Jack Dorsey
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Facing a grilling in the Senate, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testifies that Twitter censored the New York Post for “showing direct material” to back up its claims because it went against Twitter’s hacked materials policy.

Dorsey testified today before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that Twitter censored the “smoking gun” article by the New York Post for violating the big tech company’s policy on hacked materials.

The Twitter CEO declared that because the New York Post brought receipts in providing documentation found on Hunter Biden’s laptop, those stories were censored because Twitter didn’t want to be involved in distributing so-called hacked materials.

Jack Dorsey

“We found that the New York Post — because it showed the direct materials, screenshots of the direct materials, and it was unclear how those were obtained — that it fell under this policy” — Jack Dorsey

However, according to Dorsey, it was perfectly permissible when the New York Times published a story on President Donald Trump’s tax returns because it contained reporting about the material, but did not distribute the actual documents.

“We didn’t find that violation of our terms of services in this policy in particular because there was reporting about the material; it wasn’t distributing the material,” said Dorsey regarding the New York Times‘ Trump tax return story.

In Dorsey’s own words, Twitter won’t allow reports that provide real documentation if Twitter thinks those materials were hacked, but Twitter will allow stories that report on the original sources, so long as they don’t provide the original sources.

However, in the case of the “smoking gun” story, the New York Post said the material came directly from a repair shop that had Hunter Biden’s laptop. Does that constitute hacked material?

What was the real reason the New York Post was censored? Senator Ted Cruz inquired.

Cruz: Why did Twitter make the decision to censor the New York Post?

Dorsey: We had a hacked materials policy.

Cruz: When was that policy adopted?

Dorsey: In 2018, I believe.

Cruz: In 2018. Go ahead. What was the policy?

Dorsey: So, the policy is around limiting the spread of materials that are hacked. We didn’t want Twitter to be a distributor for hacked materials. We found that the New York Post — because it showed the direct materials, screenshots of the direct materials, and it was unclear how those were obtained — that it fell under this policy.”

Cruz: So, in your view if it’s unclear the source of a document, and in this instance, the New York Post documented what it said the source was, which it said it was a laptop owned by Hunter Biden and had been turned-in to a repair store, so they weren’t hiding what they claimed to be the source.

Ted Cruz

“Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?” — Senator Ted Cruz

Cruz: Is it your position that Twitter, when you can’t tell the source, blocks press stories?

Dorsey: No, not at all. Our team made a fast decision. The enforcement action; however, of blocking urls, both in tweets and in DM (direct messages), we believe was incorrect.”

Cruz: So, today the New York Post is still blocked from tweeting two weeks later.

Dorsey: Yes, they have to log-in to their account, which they can do at this minute, delete the original tweet, which fell under our original enforcement actions, and they can tweet the exact same material, the exact same article, and it would go through.

Cruz ended his line of questioning with, “Mr. Dorsey, who the hell elected you and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear, and why do you persist in behaving as a democratic super PAC silencing views to the contrary of your political beliefs?”

To which, the Twitter CEO responded, “We’re not doing that […] I hear the concerns and acknowledge them. We want to fix it with more transparency.”

Cruz: Mr. Dorsey, does Twitter have the ability to influence elections?

Dorsey: No.

Prior to grilling Dorsey on censoring the New York Post but not the New York Times, Senator Cruz flat out asked the Twitter CEO whether or not the big tech company could influence elections.

Cruz: Mr. Dorsey, does Twitter have the ability to influence elections?

Dorsey: No.

Cruz: You don’t believe Twitter has any ability to influence elections?

Dorsey: No. We are one part of a spectrum of communication channels that people have.

Cruz: So, you are testifying to this committee right now, that Twitter, when it silences people, when it censors people, when it blocks political speech — that has no impact on elections?

Dorsey: People have a choice of other communication channels.

Cruz then told Dorsey:

“I find your opening answers absurd on their face” — Senator Ted Cruz

Wednesday’s hearing on Section 230 also included testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co