Republicans file election complaint against Twitter over articles by Hunter Biden


A man wearing a face mask walks past a Twitter logo outside their New York headquarters. Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to limit the dissemination of a controversial New York Post article criticizing Joe Biden, sparking outrage from conservatives and fueling debate over how social media platforms should tackle misinformation ahead of them. US elections.John Nacion | LightRocket | Getty Images

On Friday, the Republican National Committee filed a federal election complaint over Twitter’s decision to ban sharing on its platform of recent articles about Hunter Biden, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.The RNC says Twitter’s blocking of New York Post articles amounts to an “illegal in-kind political contribution by business” to Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, which seeks to overthrow President Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican.

A computer hard drive belonging to Hunter Biden was used as a source by the New York Post for the articles subject to the Twitter ban. A copy of the hard drive was provided to the diary by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, the Post reported.

Twitter said it banned the Hunter Biden articles in question because they were found to be in violation of Twitter. Pirated Material Policy, which “does not authorize the use of our services to directly distribute pirated content that contains private information, may put people in danger or physical danger, or contains trade secrets”.

The social media giant also said it was banning linking to the articles because they contained images of pirated material that contained personal and private information.

But the RNC said in its complaint to the Federal Election Commission that Twitter is “arguably engaged in the most brazen and unprecedented act of media suppression in the history of this country, and it is doing so for the clear purpose. to support the Biden campaign ”.

The complaint notes that Twitter has “also suspended or locked the accounts of users who shared the articles or details of the articles, including the Trump campaign (@TeamTrump), White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany (@ kayleighmcenany), Republicans on the US House Judiciary Committee (@JudiciaryGOP). ”

The RNC wants the FEC to investigate the claim and impose the maximum penalty allowed if Twitter is found to have broken the law.

The complaint notes that the federal campaign finance law “strictly prohibits companies from making contributions to federal candidates.”

“The term ‘contribution’ is defined in the relevant part to mean ‘anything of value done by any person for the purpose of influencing an election’ and includes in-kind contributions such as services,” the complaint states. .

“Twitter’s deletion of New York Post stories adds value to the Biden campaign,” RNC argued in its complaint.

“The Respondent acts as Biden’s media agent, taking proactive steps to shield Biden from negative media coverage by blocking its distribution and muzzling those who try. If the Respondent were to charge for this service, Biden would undoubtedly pay a significant price. ”

RNC President Ronna McDaniel said in a statement: “Twitter’s decision to censor news articles that harm Joe Biden’s candidacy is so skewed it would even make the Chinese or North Korean governments blush.” .

Biden’s Twitter and campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

On Thursday, in response to criticism over its ban, Twitter said it was making changes to its policy on pirated materials.

Twitter has said it will no longer remove pirated content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them. The company also said it will tag the tweets to provide context, instead of blocking link sharing.

But the ban on Hunter Biden articles remains intact because Twitter said it would continue to apply rules “to posting or linking to pirated material, such as our rules against posting private information, synthetic and manipulated media and non-consensual nudity ”.

The New York Post reported that emails from the computer hard drive believed to belong to Hunter Biden show Hunter facilitated a meeting between Joe Biden and Vadym Pozharsky, an advisor to the board of directors of Burisma, the gas company. Ukrainian woman on which Hunter Biden sat.

The alleged meeting, which the Biden campaign and lawyer for Hunter Biden have denied, was said to have taken place less than a year before the then vice president pressured the Ukrainian government to oust a prosecutor .

This prosecutor has since claimed that he was investigating Burisma at the time of his ouster.

But Biden’s campaign noted that Biden’s pressure on the Ukrainian government was exerted because the U.S. government believed the prosecutor was not doing enough to investigate the corruption.

NBC News reported Thursday evening that federal investigators were investigating whether the emails cited by The Post were related to a foreign intelligence operation. The hard drive was originally left in a Delaware computer repair shop.

According to the FEC website, the commission “maintained a long and diverse list of goods and services (both tangible and intangible, both easy and difficult to value) to qualify as contributions” to a political campaign.

However, none of the services given as examples of such contributions on the site imply a decision by a social media platform to apply its own rules.

“The Commission has, in accordance with court decisions, interpreted” everything of value “in the broad sense [election law]», Indicates the site.

“The Commission found that even when the value of a good or a service” may be nominal or difficult to determine “, this good or service is nevertheless a” thing of value “within the meaning of the” law “, notes the site.

– Additional reporting by Christina Wilkie


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