Twitter’s handling of Biden Laptop Story Ridicules the Existence of The Internet
- Bipartisan criticism arose from Twitter’s decision in December to block stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop.
- Although the laptop was authenticated by the manufacturer, some reports regarding its contents have not been confirmed.
- Some lawmakers have since called to repeal Section 230, a law “that created the internet.”
Neu publishedInternal communications about Twitter’s decision by throttle a New York Post storyThe social platform was the subject of widespread bipartisan criticism in late 2020 after Hunter Biden lost his laptop. The criticism has since intensified a movement to repeal Section 230, which could change the Internet forever.
Matt Taibbi is the Substack newsletter writer “TK News” on Friday posted a thread of tweetsHe titled it “The Twitter Files”, and included screenshots of internal correspondence regarding the social network’s content moderation system. Taibbi stated that he had to “…”agree to certain conditions“in order to publicly publish the files, although he did not disclose what those conditions were.
Taibbi did not respond to Insider’s request to speak by phone.
Taibbi focused a lot of his thread on Twitter’s handling the issue. New York Post’s October 2020Story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. The Post reported that it was left at a Delaware repair shop. Early reports about the laptop were met with skepticism by social media platforms — which faced heavy criticismAbout content moderation after the 2016 controversy surrounding then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails — and warnings from law enforcementDisinformation campaigns are spread via social media.
Insider reached out to Twitter representatives and Elon Musk, but they did not immediately respond.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself confirmed in an August interview with Joe RoganHis platforms suppressed reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptopBefore the 2020 election, the FBI advised that it “fit the pattern of misinformation Facebook had previously warned them to watch out for.” Though the laptopAnd some of its contents have since been authenticated as belonging to Biden, some reports about its content have not been confirmed.
Taibbi’s documents focused on internal discussions within Twitter staff regarding the laptop story. The final decision to slow the reach of the platform and label it with the platform’s “hacked resources” policy was made. Although it was not clear at the time if the reporting was true, and whether the material claimed to be on the laptop was legally obtained, critics were quick in questioning why Twitter chose to throttle it.
“I say this as a complete Biden partisan, convinced he didn’t do anything wrong,” Taibbi reportedRep. Ro Khanna wrote the following email to Vijaya Gadde (head of Twitter’s legal division), at the time. “But the story now becomes more about censorship and relatively innocuous messages, and it’s become much bigger than it was before. It is also now leading to serious efforts to curtail section 230 — many of which would have been a mistake.”
Section 230This clause is found in the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Its advocates have called it “the most important law protecting internet speech.”The 26-word phrase, “that created the internet” limits legal liability for tech platforms hosting user-generated content — that is, in other words, a social media platform like Twitter cannot be held legally responsible for any illegal content posted by its users.
The section“No provider, user, or user of an interactive computing service shall be considered the publisher or speaker of any information supplied by another information content provider.” Tech companies view a potential reversalas a threat of free speech that would force small web host to close their sites or take legal responsibility for what their users post.
Khanna representatives didn’t answer questions about Khanna’s current position on repealing Section 233.
Rep. Khanna of California stated that “I believe our Constitution is sacred” in a statement emailed by Insider. “As the Silicon Valley congressman, I felt that Twitter’s actions were a violation to 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.
Khanna was not alone in his criticism of Twitter’s move – which the site’s former trust and safety chief has since said was a mistake. Taibbi reported 9 Republicans and 3 Democrats surveyed by a research firm in 2020 also disapproved of the decision — and bipartisan calls for the reform or reversal of Section 230 have increased since the Hunter Biden laptop story.
Sen. Lindsay Graham stated, “I am more determined than ever before to strip Section 230 protections for Big Tech (Twitter), that let them be immune against lawsuits.” tweetedIn January 2021, less than a month after the Hunter Biden story broke and shortly afterwards, he introduced legislationSection 230 must be repealed. “Big Tech companies are the only ones in America that have virtually absolute immunity from being sued for any of their actions. It’s because Congress granted them that protection.”
Donald Trump made Section 230 a staple part of his presidency. He praised Twitter for what he called “the most important thing in America.”selective censorship“After the platform added warning labels on several of his tweets about voting by mail, he said that he was now apprehensive. Trump died in the last weeks before he was elected president. vetoed a $740 billion defense billIt did not repeal Section 230.
Section 230 is often criticized by Republicans because of its focus on tech platforms. censoring conservative viewpointsDemocratic critics claim that the law allows social businesses to do less. combat hate speechInformation and disinformation
“I am urging Congress to remove special immunity for social media companies, and impose stronger transparency requirements on all of them.” Al Jazeera reportedBiden called earlier this year for the repeal of Section 230.
Should Section 230 be repealed, free speech advocates worry the digital landscape would radically change — by forcing website hosts to be held liable for the content posted to their sites, moderators would likely eliminate potential legal risk by drastically limiting what they allow users to post or by shutting down entirely.
“Repealing Section 230 will upend the internet by punishing successful firms as well as internet users for their behavior of an Antisocial Minority,” reads the article an essayWill Duffield, a Cato Institute policy analyst. “The platform’s legal liability will not make them more thoughtful or judicious. It will cause some people to close and others to exclude any offensive sentiments.
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