Republican lawmakers on Wednesday demanded answers from Facebook and Twitter about why the social media giants “censored” The Post’s reporting on emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley fired off separate letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey questioning the Silicon Valley titans’ moves to limit the distribution of The Post’s exclusive exposé detailing emails that indicate Hunter Biden introduced his father, Joe Biden, to a Ukrainian energy executive.
Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sent a missive of his own to Dorsey, blasting Twitter’s decision to block users from sharing the story “quite hypocritical given its willingness to allow users to share less well-sourced reporting critical of other candidates for public office.”
“This can only be seen as an obvious and transparent attempt by Twitter to influence the upcoming presidential election,” Cruz charged.
Rep. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, also spoke out, sending a letter to Zuckerberg, saying the platform’s actions “raises questions about Facebook’s commitment to free speech and free and fair elections.”
He demanded to know why and how Facebook had decided to reduce dissemination of The Post’s report.
In his letter to Zuckerberg, Hawley charged that: “The seemingly selective nature of this public intervention suggests partiality on the part of Facebook.”
“Your efforts to suppress the distribution of content revealing potentially unethical activity by a candidate for president raises a number of additional questions, to which I expect responses immediately.”
Facebook said The Post’s story could be reviewed by third-party fact-checkers, a step it generally takes for news articles that raise red flags for misinformation. That led Hawley to ask whether it was normal for the company to limit the spread of news reports from established publications before they are fact-checked by outside sources.
Moreover, he asked why the company said publicly that the story was subject to fact-checking, given that such a statement could be “a reflection of Facebook’s assessment of a news report’s credibility.”
Hawley said he wants to know whether Facebook has evidence that The Post’s article contains “disinformation” or other inaccuracies and whether the company will disclose any such evidence.
He also asked whether the Biden campaign or any of the former vice president’s representatives had asked Facebook to “suppress” the story; and what steps the company had taken to make sure its employees’ “political preferences don’t influence decisions to suppress content.”
Hawley’s letter expanded on concerns he expressed in a Twitter post earlier Wednesday. He sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which said it is investigating the same cache of documents obtained from a laptop believed to be Hunter Biden’s.
Twitter went a step further and also locked The Post’s primary account, because its articles about the messages obtained from Biden’s laptop broke the social network’s rules against “distribution of hacked material,” according to an email The Post received from Twitter.
In a second letter to Twitter boss Dorsey, Hawley blasted the social media giant for its “unusual intervention that is not universally applied to all content.”
The senator demanded to know how Twitter had determined that The Post’s story was violating its policy on hacked materials and why the company had taken the “unprecedented action” to lock the news org’s account.
“I ask that you immediately answer these questions and provide the necessary justifications so that your users can feel confident that you are not seeking to influence the outcome of the presidential election with your content removal decisions,” Hawley wrote.
He also asked whether the Biden campaign or any of the former vice president’s representatives had asked Twitter to “suppress” the story.
Facebook did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Hawley’s letter. The company also did not respond to an earlier message asking why it decided to limit The Post story’s spread and whether a Facebook fact-checker has indeed started reviewing it.
The Biden campaign also did not immediately respond to an email asking whether it approached Facebook about The Post’s story.
Earlier, President Trump’s campaign accused Facebook of trying to tip the 2020 election in Biden’s favor.
“Facebook is actively interfering in the election,” the campaign tweeted. “Facebook is rigging the election for Joe Biden.”
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