Twitter abruptly changes hacked-materials policy after blocking Biden story

A computer keyboard with the word
Twitter has changed its policy on sharing hacked materials after facing criticism of its decision to block users from tweeting links to a New York Post article that contained Hunter Biden emails allegedly retrieved from a computer left at a repair shop.

Further Reading

Twitter, Facebook face blowback after stopping circulation of NY Post story On Wednesday, Twitter said it blocked links to the Post story because it included private information and violated Twitter's hacked materials policy, which prohibits sharing links to or images of hacked content. But on late Thursday night, Twitter legal executive Vijaya Gadde wrote in a thread that the company has "decided to make changes to the [hacked materials] policy and how we enforce it" after receiving "significant feedback." Twitter enacted the policy in 2018 "to discourage and mitigate harms associated with hacks and unauthorized exposure of private information," Gadde wrote. "We tried to find the right balance between people's privacy and the right of free expression, but we can do better." Twitter will thus change its hacked materials policy to "no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them." Twitter will also "label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter."
Twitter spokesperson Brandon Borrman wrote that the Post article is still blocked because "the materials in the article still violate our rules on sharing personal private information." However, I was able to tweet a link to the Post story today and the block appears to be lifted.

Twitter CEO: “Straight blocking of URLs was wrong”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged that Twitter handled the Post situation poorly, writing on Wednesday that "blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we're blocking [was] unacceptable." Today, Dorsey commented on the policy change, writing that "Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix. Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that." The Post's headline on the story in question is, "Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad." But as the Poynter Institute's PolitiFact noted, the emails cited in the Post article "do not establish that such a meeting ever occurred."

While Twitter blocked links to the story outright, Facebook instead reduced its distribution.

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