At this point, in 2020, Americans should not be surprised by anything that happens as it has been the year that has left most scratching their heads. However, when a major breaking news story that could have significant implications for our presidential election, one would think that sharing the information with as many voters as possible is the voters’ duty. Right?
One would be wrong. Twitter and Facebook decided it was their responsibility to censor the story 19 days before the election.
The New York Post published a story about a hard drive recovered that once belonged to Hunter Biden. On that hard drive, emails that appear to link his father to his Ukraine business dealings. There were also many photos, videos, and other materials that paint a not so pretty picture of Hunter Biden.
The story broke the internet. Many users found themselves unable to share the news story but instead found themselves locked out of their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Even high-ranking White House officials like White House Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and other President Trump supporters were not immune.
“Censoring political speech is what you’d expect in countries like China, North Korea, or Iran — NOT America,” McEnany wrote in a Thursday tweet. “This should scare every single American who values free and open discourse. Do NOT let Big Tech silence YOU.”
Actor and Trump supporter, James Woods, was also silenced on Twitter. Today Woods announced his return to the platform. Woods wrote, “I’m back, Jack, and ready to join the push by freedom-loving Americans for a fairness doctrine regulating renegade social media. When Twitter starts “choosing” the news, it has declared itself a de facto publisher. Twitter is subversive cancer eating at the soul of this nation.”
Team Trump was also not immune as their account was suspended after sharing the news story.
“Twitter has suspended Team Trump for posting a video calling Joe Biden a liar who has been ripping off our country for years, as it relates to the New York Post article. 19 days out from the election,” he wrote.
While Twitter cited its rule about posting material from a hacked source as the reason that they blocked individuals from linking or sharing, they reversed their decision the next day.
The blowback for the censorship was immediate. Almost every news outlet covered the story concerning the censorship more than they did the actual story. So, in a nutshell, they probably helped bring even more people’s attention to the news story.
Capitol Hill reacted just as fast and even had words to say about the censorship during Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearings.
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism has sent letters to both Facebook and Twitter asking for them to appear for questioning for a hearing entitled “Digital Platforms and Election Interference.”
Senator Ted Cruz made a public statement in which he commented, “The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know what the hell is going on. We’re planning a subpoena to have Jack before the Committee next Friday. Twitter is abusing its power, silencing speech/stories just days before the election – actively interfering w/election.”
The controversy is not going away any time soon as the social media giants will have to answer some tough questions on exactly what happened and why it happened.