Republicans are using the New York Post's Biden story to help their narrative that tech companies are plotting against them

  • Republicans are lashing out at Twitter and Facebook for limiting the spread of a questionable New York Post story about Hunter Biden that possibly contains hacked or doctored material.
  • Conservatives are using it to renew accusations that big tech companies are biased against their party.
  • Facebook and Twitter have long denied allegations of political bias.
  • Some Republicans also sought to circumvent Twitter's restrictions on hyperlinking to the report by linking to a GOP site with a copy of the story instead.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

After Twitter and Facebook moved to limit the spread of a questionable New York Post article about Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Republicans lashed out at the social media giants and sought to circumvent the restrictions.

On Wednesday, Facebook said it was "reducing the distribution" of the report while it's being fact checked, while Twitter appeared to block users from tweeting out a link to the story.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee instead shared a link to their website, where a version of the story was posted — dodging Twitter's restrictions on tweeting direct links to the Post's site.

"Twitter has blocked users from tweeting the link to the @nypost's story on Hunter Biden. So we put it on our website for you to read and share. Click, share, and RT!" they said.

Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, a Republican, also announced that he had written to both Twitter and Facebook to protest their decision to slow the spread of the article, The Hill reported.

"I find this behavior stunning but not surprising from a platform that has censored the President of the United States," Hawley wrote to the tech giants, referring to Twitter's previous warnings on posts from President Donald Trump which contained misinformation.

Employees at the New York Post, a right-leaning tabloid, are also accusing the two companies of political bias and censorship.

The Trump campaign also said that White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany had had her account locked for sharing the story.

In a tweet, Trump renewed his call to repeal Section 230, the congressional bill allowing social media companies to not be held legally accountable for all content on their platforms.

Twitter and Facebook's actions on the Post article marked a dramatic escalation of the war between Republicans and US tech companies.

The GOP is now seeking to leverage the Post's story to damage Joe Biden's candidacy, with the Democrat leading Trump by double digits in most national polls.

The Post story purported to show a "smoking-gun email" between Hunter Biden and an executive at Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where he worked, while his father was serving as vice president. The Post said that the information was found on a laptop abandoned in a repair shop in Delaware.

The New York Times reported that US intelligence had long believed that material hacked by Russian intelligence from Burisma would be released ahead of the election as an "October surprise" to influence the election.

Social media companies had long faced criticism for failing to act effectively against the spread of misinformation. However, as the 2020 presidential election looms, they have taken a series of steps toward limiting the spread of misinformation, or even banning it entirely.

But the decision to limit the spread of a story in an established news outlet, albeit a tabloid with a right-leaning bias, is an unprecedented step.

Social media companies have long denied allegations of political bias.

In response to requests for comment, both Twitter and Facebook referred Business Insider to statements released Wednesday. 

In explaining its decision, Twitter said it was applying its policy of limiting the spread of material believed to have been hacked. Facebook said the story's distribution was being limited because it "is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners."

However, it's unlikely that Twitter and Facebook's efforts to limit the story will work, with it being unclear whether the ban applies to third parties hosting the story, such as the GOP website or news outlets that have aggregated it.

And the debate between liberals who believe that social media platforms need to do more to limit misinformation, and conservatives who say the platforms are unfairly seeking to set themselves up as the gatekeepers of journalism, is sure to intensify.

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