Khanna Emailed Twitter Concerns About Hunter Biden Laptop
- Twitter initially blocked users sharing a New York Post story in October 2020 about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
- According to materials published Friday afternoon, Rep. Ro Khanna expressed concerns via Twitter about the decision.
- Khanna wrote that he said this as a complete Biden partisan, convinced he did nothing wrong.
In October 2020, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna emailed concerns at Twitter to express concern over a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The congressman’s emails were published by journalist Matt Taibbi on TwitterFriday, as well as other details about the social media platform’s handling the story.
The Post published a report less than a month prior to the 2020 election. storyThe email claimed to have emails taken from President Joe Biden’s laptop. Twitter initially suppressed the distribution of the storyInitial blocking of users from sharing the article was done to protect them against hacking or foreign disinformation campaigns.
Twitter backtrackedIt received a response within days. However, Taibbi’s thread on Twitter provided more information about the decision-making process that took place the day the story was published, October 14. Khanna, a California Democrat emailed Vijaya Gadde during this time, who was at that time Twitter’s head for legal, policy and trust.
Khanna, “Generating massive backlash against hill re speech,” wrote, referring to Congress and offering to speak.
Gadde repliedTwitter explained that their response was due their policy that prevents hacked material from being shared.
Khanna was then respondedHe stated that he was concerned about Twitter blocking the story as it seemed to violate the 1st Amendment principles. Khanna explained that if materials revealing war crimes were hacked into The New York Times, The Times should have the right to publish them.
“A journalist should never be held responsible for the illegal actions taken by the source unless they actively helped the hacker.” Khanna stated that it was not in the interest of NYT v Sullivan to restrict distribution of such material, particularly regarding a Presidential candidate. landmark 1964 Supreme Court decisionConcerning press freedom.
New York Times Co. v. SullivanPublic figures suing for defamation must prove “actual guilt” Another landmark Supreme Court case. New York Times Co. v. USThe “Pentagon Papers Case”, 1971, protected the right of the press not to publish illegally leaked classified material.
Khanna said, “I say these as a total Biden supporter and convinced he didn’t do anything wrong.” The story has become more about censorship that relatively innocuous email, and it’s become much bigger than it used to be.
The congressman said that backlash could also jeopardize section 230, which gives social media companies the ability to moderate content and prohibits them being held liable for any content posted by users.
Khanna stated that, “in the heat a Presidential Campaign, restricting dissemination newspaper articles (even NY Post is far left) seems like it would invite more backlash then it will do good.”
Khanna released a statement to Insider following Friday’s release of the email exchange. He stated that he believed the Constitution and First Amendment were sacred. As the Silicon Valley congressman, I felt that Twitter’s actions were in violation of First Amendment principles. So I raised these concerns. Our democracy can only thrive when we are open to ideas exchanges and engage with people with whom our differences do not.
After Elon Musk, Twitter’s new owner, promised to publish them, Taibbi published internal communications and decisions regarding the Hunter Biden laptop story. The thread, titled “The Twitter Files”, shows employees at Twitter discussing how to respond to the Post’s story and whether sharing it would violate their policies.
Kara Swisher, a journalist, interviewed me on Tuesday. Twitter’s former head of trust and safetyIt was a mistake for the story to be censored.
“We didn’t know what to believe.” We didn’t understand what was true. There was smoke.” Yoel Roth said. “Ultimately, it didn’t reach a point where I was comfortable removing that content from Twitter.”
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