Twitter has updated a policy which led it to block people from sharing a link to a story from the New York Post about Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
The Hacked Materials policy initially blocked Twitter users from sharing content that had been acquired as a result of a hack. Twitter’s Vijaya Gadde has now said posts will be flagged as containing hacked material, rather than blocked. However material shared directly by hackers will still be removed. The article contained screenshots of emails allegedly sent and received by Hunter Biden, presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son.
It also contained personal photos of Hunter Biden, allegedly removed from a laptop computer while it was undergoing repairs at a store.
Initially Twitter did not explain why the link could not be shared: CEO and founder Jack Dorsey described the lack of clarity behind Twitter’s earlier decision as “not great”.
Democratic candidate Joe Biden faces President Donald Trump, a Republican, in the US presidential election next month.
The removal of the link by Twitter to the controversial Biden article led to accusations of censorship from Republicans. On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote over whether to compel Mr Dorsey to appear before it to answer questions on the issue.
“We put the Hacked Materials policy in place back in 2018 to discourage and mitigate harms associated with hacks and unauthorised exposure of private information,” tweeted Vijaya Gadde, legal, policy and trust & safety lead at Twitter.
“We tried to find the right balance between people’s privacy and the right of free expression, but we can do better.”
We’ve recently added new product capabilities, such as labels to provide people with additional context. We are no longer limited to Tweet removal as an enforcement action.
— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) October 16, 2020
Ms Gadde added that “empowering people to assess content for themselves” was a better alternative for the public.
She said there would be two key changes to the policy as a result of recent developments:
- Hacked content will no longer be removed from Twitter unless it comes directly from hackers
- Links to hacked content will be labelled instead of removed
Facebook also limited distribution of the New York Post article after it was published on its platform.
It said it was part of a “standard process” to give third-party fact-checkers time to review the content and decide if it should be treated as misinformation.