On Wednesday, Twitter stopped its users from sharing a New York Post story about Hunter Biden. The story includes an email that allegedly proves Hunter introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive of a Ukrainian energy firm in 2015.
Twitter said it censored the story because it violates the platform’s “Hacked Materials Policy.” The policy states that Twitter does not permit “the use of our services to directly distribute content obtained through hacking that contains private information, may put people in physical harm or danger, or contains trade secrets.”
Facebook said it also took action to limit the spread of the story, but the details of how Facebook did that are not clear. Other social media platforms, like YouTube, have adopted policies to prevent hacked materials from being shared.
The policy is no doubt a reaction to the DNC emails published by WikiLeaks in 2016 ahead of the presidential election that the US claims were hacked by the Russian government. Such policies could prevent future WikiLeaks-style dumps from being shared on the internet.
It’s worth noting that the claim that Russia hacked the DNC and stole the emails is still up for debate. It was revealed by declassified House testimony from 2017 that the private cyber-security firm CrowdStrike, where the claim first came from, had no proof that emails were “exfiltrated” from the DNC server.
Issues have been raised over the chain of custody of the leaked email and pictures of Hunter Biden published by the Post. The email and photos allegedly came from a laptop that was dropped off at a Delaware repair shop in 2019. The Post also published subpoenas that showed the FBI seized the computer.
But the shop owner said he made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to the lawyer of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an ally of President Trump who gave the copy to the Post. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon was also involved and told the Post about the hard drive’s existence in September.
Despite these issues, it’s still possible the email is real. Hunter Biden landed a high-paying job on the board of a Ukrainian gas company after the Obama administration orchestrated a coup in country. Joe Biden stands accused of leveraging a US loan to Kyiv to pressure Ukrainian officials to fire a prosecutor investigating corruption at the company.