The New York Post delivered bombshell reports Wednesday and Thursday revealing emails that appear to show Joe Biden’s son Hunter pursued — and in some cases, secured — lucrative deals with businesses in Ukraine and China by offering access to then-Vice President Biden, and potentially by offering other favors.
This could end up being the biggest story of this year’s presidential race.
Among other discoveries in the emails is an important message indicating that Hunter Biden set up a meeting between Joe Biden and a top executive at an energy company in Ukraine, Burisma Holdings.
The meeting allegedly occurred less than a year prior to Joe Biden using his position as vice president to pressure the Ukrainian government into dismissing its top prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who had been conducting an investigation into the very same energy company.
Hunter Biden joined the board of Burisma — despite having no expertise in the energy industry — in 2014, not long after President Barack Obama put Joe Biden in charge of U.S. relations with Ukraine.
The emails obtained by The New York Post also show a top executive at Burisma asking Hunter Biden for “advice on how you could use your influence” to help the company, as well as separate messages showing Hunter Biden actively pursuing deals involving a top energy firm in China that would be “interesting for me and my family.”
If accurate, The New York Post’s reports could have a monumental impact on the presidential election now underway.
It appears that, at the very least, Joe Biden lied to the American people — he repeatedly insisted he had nothing to do with Hunter’s business dealings — and it seems Joe Biden was engaged in highly unethical behavior, using his office to enrich his son.
At worst, Joe Biden may have broken federal law.
But as important as this incredible story is, there is a much bigger story looming in the background: the way social media giants Facebook and Twitter responded to The New York Post reporting.
Following the Post article’s publication, Facebook and Twitter deliberately limited the news story’s distribution and blocked key figures from discussing it over their social media platforms.
“While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners,” wrote Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone in a tweet posted Wednesday. “In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.”
Following its decision to block the spread of The New York Post article on Twitter, a spokesperson for the company said: “In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter.”
Censorship by Facebook and Twitter of The New York Post’s report on Hunter and Joe Biden is an outrageous example of social media companies’ proclivity to silence conservative content and bury negative stories about the left. This is perhaps the most important attempt ever made by a social media company to alter the outcome of an American election.
If Facebook and Twitter had applied similar protocols to stories meant to hurt President Trump, they would have never allowed users to share the countless articles published by mainstream outlets about unverified accounts of the Trump campaign allegedly colluding with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. They also would have blocked the recent New York Times report about President Trump’s tax records.
Yet social media giants allowed those articles to be shared widely. Why? Because social media companies are now working tirelessly to protect Democrats and destroy the Republican Party. They are partisan institutions masquerading as “open platforms” and operate daily as extensions of America’s left.
The blatant censorship displayed by Facebook and Twitter regarding The New York Post story should send a chill down the spine of every American. What these companies are doing in this crucial period when voting has already begun in the Nov. 3 election is reprehensible and dangerous for the preservation of our constitutional republic.
Facebook and Twitter are two of the largest distributors of news in the world. Twelve percent of all U.S. adults say they access news sites on Twitter. And 43 percent of adults say they get news from Facebook.
If Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants are permitted to ban the sharing of news stories published by reputable outlets, they can ban virtually any form of political speech. This is dangerous because free speech is the foundation upon which all free societies exist.
Many on the left, and even some on the right, argue that because Facebook and Twitter are private companies they should be allowed to ban anything they want on their platforms.
As libertarians, we are sympathetic to that argument. We believe that in an open marketplace, companies should have the freedom to set their own rules, and consumers should “vote” for the services they like with their dollars, time and product use.
But social media companies do not operate in a truly free market. They benefit from special legal protections granted to them by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which allows them to escape legal liability for erroneous information posted by third parties on their site.
In a perfectly free-market system, platforms would be held liable when users publish illicit content on their website. The only reason that isn’t the case is because the federal government has created special rules that permit Facebook and Twitter to operate in their current forms.
These companies have made billions of dollars because of these unique legal protections. And how have they repaid the American people? By refusing to operate in good faith and silencing speech that’s inconvenient for their political allies.
Now the tech titans are wielding more power than ever. With a single keystroke, they have the power to conceal information that the public has a right to know.
It’s long past time for Congress to repeal Section 230 and replace it with a new federal law that would grant special liability protections to only those social media companies that sincerely work toward providing open platforms that protect — not punish or silence — all forms of political speech, as well as many other forms of speech.
Reasonable restrictions on pornography, extreme violence and other content not suited for mass distribution should be allowed, of course. But social media companies should never be permitted to ban Americans’ political speech — whether that speech come from liberals, conservatives, libertarians or socialists — while also earning a fortune from legal carve-outs granted to them by the same people who are being unjustly silenced.
A failure to act now would only embolden the social media giants to continue expanding their speech bans and further limit the ability for people of all political, social and religious persuasions from engaging in open dialogue. This must not be tolerated.
Chris Talgo is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.