Despite Twitter’s best efforts at slowing the spread of a New York Post story alleging evidence of international influence peddling within the Biden family, the story blanketed social media, becoming the lead political story last week, according to a Wednesday report from Axios.
“Facebook and Twitter’s frantic attempts to stop the spread of the New York Post’s Hunter Biden story didn’t prevent the article from becoming the top story about the election on those platforms last week, according to data from NewsWhip,” Axios noted.
The numbers are significant. NewsWhip found that the New York Post’s story “generated 2.59m interactions (likes, comments, shares) on Facebook and Twitter last week — more than double the next biggest story about Trump or Biden,” even though, for part of that time, Twitter actively prevented users from sharing the URL for the Post’s story, on the theory that it violated their policy against “hacked” materials.
The Post’s official Twitter feed was also suspended on Wednesday of last week and remains out of commission.
Despite that, the response to the story was significant, per Axios:
- 5 of the 10 biggest stories were about the Hunter Biden story, the fallout, or how Facebook and Twitter reacted.
- It was the 6th-most engaged article this month, trailing pieces like Trump testing positive for COVID-19 and Eddie Van Halen’s death.
- 83% of the interactions happened on Facebook, with the other 17% on Twitter.
The censorship campaign, the outlet notes, became a story in itself — the second biggest story of last week, narrowly trailing the Hunter Biden laptop revelations.
“Behind the Biden story itself, Facebook and Twitter’s response to the report was the second biggest topic last week,” Axios said, based on the NewsWhip data. “The backlash largely came from the right, which accused the tech platforms of meddling in the election through inappropriate censorship.”
In addition, Twitter’s decision to censor the Post’s story resulted in an official complaint to the FEC from the Republican National Committee alleging that the decision to block the Post’s story amounted to an in-kind donation to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, and triggered Congressional action. The Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees both expressed interest in hearing from Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on whether the respective social media platforms viewed themselves as publishers.
As the Daily Wire reported earlier this week, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported that Twitter’s decision to suppress the story “nearly doubled” the story’s visibility.
“When Twitter banned, and then unbanned, links to a questionably sourced New York Post article about Joe Biden’s son Hunter, its stated intention was to prevent people from spreading harmful false material as America heads into the final stretch of the election campaign,” MIT’s Technology Review reported Monday. “But thanks to the cycle of misinformation—and claims from conservatives that social-media platforms are deliberately censoring their views—Twitter managed to do the opposite of what it intended.”
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