By Aaron Kliegman
It took Facebook several years to ban antisemitic poison denying the Holocaust but only a few hours to suppress a news report that made Joe Biden look bad. The former occurred on Monday, the latter on Wednesday. Taken together, both moves reveal a company that has disturbingly warped priorities.
The news report was published by the New York Post, which obtained emails showing that Biden’s son, Hunter, introduced his father, then the vice president, to a top executive at a shady Ukrainian energy firm. Hunter had joined the company’s board at a reported salary of up to $50,000 a month. The meeting occurred less than a year before the elder Biden “pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.”
The emails also revealed the executive asking Hunter for “advice on how you could use your influence” on the company’s behalf.
If true, the report would contradict Joe Biden’s claims that he’s “never spoken to [his] son about his overseas business dealings” — dealings that include working with some of China’s largest firms.
Shortly after the story was published, Facebook’s manager of policy communications, Andy Stone, boasted that Facebook was “reducing [the story’s] distribution on our platform.” He added that the report would be scrutinized by third-party fact checkers “to reduce the spread of misinformation.”
On a totally unrelated note, Stone previously worked for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. No partisan agenda to see here.
Twitter quickly followed Facebook’s lead, blocking users from posting or reading the story. The company even locked the Post’s primary Twitter account. The reason? Apparently, Twitter acted because of “the lack of authoritative reporting on the origins of the materials included in the article.”
Remember, the Post isn’t some blog — it’s one of America’s biggest newspapers by circulation. And while we can’t verify for ourselves whether the story is accurate, the report explains quite clearly how the Post obtained the material.
Plus, Biden’s team admits that the meeting could have happened. According to Politico, “Biden’s campaign would not rule out the possibility that the former VP had some kind of informal interaction with [the executive], which wouldn’t appear on Biden’s official schedule.”
At no point does the campaign deny that the emails are real.
Imagine for a moment that the Post’s story was about Vice President Mike Pence and his son, not the Bidens. Does anyone seriously think Facebook and Twitter would have suppressed the report? Of course not. They acted because the report was damaging to the Democratic presidential candidate.
If the giants of social media were serious about combating misinformation and unauthoritative reporting, they would have taken similar steps to curtail the circulation of any number of stories in left-leaning outlets targeting President Trump.
Of course, this didn’t happen. Facebook and Twitter never blocked the countless stories on Russian collusion that were later debunked and even retracted. They never blocked stories on the salacious Steele dossier, which turned out to be Russian disinformation — and a compilation of nonsense.
And remember that recent story in The Atlantic claiming President Trump disparaged Americans who died in war as “losers” and “suckers?” The shocking report relied on a few anonymous sources who remain mysterious to this day. Meanwhile, more than 20 people denied the report on the record. Compare that to the New York Post’s story, which Biden’s campaign didn’t even flat-out deny.
The point here is not to prove or refute any particular story; rather, it’s to show that Facebook and Twitter are applying egregious double standards, acting like political operatives.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Big Tech is attempting to sway the election in Joe Biden’s favor.
Even worse, companies like Facebook and Twitter, which dominate the flow of information in our society, are trying to control what we can read and what news we can receive. It’s destructive in a society that’s already suffering from bitter partisanship and polarization. But more than that, it’s just plain creepy.
We shouldn’t be surprised about any of this. Recall what Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, told Sam Harris during a podcast last year. “I don’t believe that we can afford to take a neutral stance anymore,” Dorsey said. “I don’t believe that we should optimize for neutrality.”
Maybe at one time these social media platforms were meant to be neutral places where users could post content and connect with each other through a free flow of information. But now, Facebook and Twitter are left-wing political outfits, suppressing information that hurts their allies.
Regardless of who wins the election, don’t expect the situation to improve after Nov. 3. In fact, expect the suppression to get worse.