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Social media's control over political content concerning some

Ben Henry
Updated: October 15, 2020 08:34 PM
Created: October 15, 2020 06:20 PM

The CEO of Twitter may have to answer to Congress as to why the social media platform blocked users from sharing an article that could negatively impact Joe Biden's bid for the White House.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, said Thursday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Tuesday on whether it will issue a subpoena to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey after the platform blocked users from sharing a New York Post story.

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In the published report, the paper claims Hunter Biden – the son of Democratic nominee for president Joe Biden – was pursuing lucrative foreign business deals while his father was vice president. The report details that it received emails – that Hunter was included in – from President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Concerns surrounding the source of where Giuliani obtained those emails immediately surfaced, including from two of the largest social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter. Both created blocks so its users could not share the article.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reached out to both the Trump and Biden campaigns to talk about the content control.

Below is the statement from 'Biden for President' spokesperson Andrew Bates:

"Investigations by the press, during impeachment, and even by two Republican-led Senate committees whose work was decried as 'not legitimate' and political by a GOP colleague have all reached the same conclusion: that Joe Biden carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing. Trump Administration officials have attested to these facts under oath. 

"The New York Post never asked the Biden campaign about the critical elements of this story. They certainly never raised that Rudy Giuliani - whose discredited conspiracy theories and alliance with figures connected to Russian intelligence have been widely reported - claimed to have such materials. Moreover, we have reviewed Joe Biden's official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place."

The Trump campaign feels differently. In a video-interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, a campaign strategist called the article credible and spoke about the control over the article.

"It's a sad day in America," Steve Cortes, senior advisor of strategy for the Trump campaign, said.

"In some ways, it's kind of scary the [kind of] power that is exerted by tech giants like Twitter and Facebook, and what they're doing right now to suppress free speech to unfortunately prevent full transparency for American voters," he added.

Moves like these are nothing new. Ever since social media transitioned from 'family picture sharing' to a '24-7 open politic forum' it created policies to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Political science professor at Hamline University, David Schultz, said that social media has more power now than it did in the 2016 election.

He stressed that people should be wary of articles and information that is spread online. Recognizing the original source is a good start and checking to see how other sources – despite their political leanings – are handling the topic that can benefit the voter.

When it comes to the content control, professor Schultz said it's a fine line to walk but one that needs to be made to ensure credible information is shared with voters.

"On one hand, there is this sense of the First Amendment: free speech the right people have to post information and circulate whatever they want. But, on the other hand, what we're starting to get into is a situation where the media, or I'm going to say the social media, is playing by a different side of rules."


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