Hunter Biden and the shame of social media | #socialmedia

HUNTER BIDEN AND THE SHAME OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Today the New York Times published a story about the federal tax and foreign-influence investigation of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter. The paper reported that Hunter Biden paid off a “significant tax liability,” thought to be more than $1 million, in hopes of fending off indictment. But the investigation, run by the U.S. attorney in Delaware, is about more than just taxes, the New York Times reported — it also focuses on possible violations of “foreign lobbying and money laundering rules” in Hunter Biden’s lucrative dealings in Ukraine, China, and elsewhere.

Deep in the story, the 24th paragraph, to be exact, the paper reported that prosecutors have “examined emails between Mr. Biden, [business partner Devon] Archer, and others about [Ukrainian energy firm] Burisma and other foreign business activity.” The New York Times has seen the emails in question. It obtained them “from a cache of files that appears to have come from a laptop abandoned by Mr. Biden in a Delaware repair shop.” Those emails, the New York Times continued, “were authenticated by people familiar with them and with the investigation.”

The New York Times article comes as something of a bitter joke for the New York Post, which on Oct. 14, 2020, published a story headlined, “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad.” The New York Post reported that the email was “contained in a massive trove of data recovered from a laptop computer” that had been brought to a Delaware repair shop in April 2019.

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The bitterness in the story is that the New York Post article, coming in the heat of a presidential campaign, was ignored, downplayed, or attacked in many media outlets. In the two biggest social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, it was suppressed. Rather than follow up on the New York Post’s reporting, other news organizations limited the reach of negative information about Hunter Biden and his father, then the Democratic candidate for president.

Some of the treatment was downright comic. For example, right after the first presidential debate, in which then-President Donald Trump made many references to the laptop, to Hunter Biden’s habit of referring to his father as “the big man,” and more, the New York Times published a guide for confused viewers. “If you listened to President Trump debate Joseph R. Biden Jr., you may have felt like you’d started watching a complicated serial drama — ‘Lost’ or ‘Twin Peaks’ — in its final season,” the New York Times’s James Poniewozik wrote. “The president kept dropping names and plot points, all seeming to reference a baroque mythology. Who was ‘the big man?’ What was ‘the laptop?’ How many seasons of this show did I miss?”

It was all so mysterious! Of course, if more news organizations, including the New York Times, had reported the details of the laptop story, more viewers would have known exactly what Trump was talking about.

So it’s fair to say that many media outlets did not exactly cover themselves in glory in the Hunter Biden laptop matter. But the real shame belongs to social media giants Twitter and Facebook, which actively suppressed the New York Post story.

Facebook said it applied its “process to reduce the spread of misinformation” to the laptop story. “While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want to be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners,” tweeted Facebook spokesman Andy Stone. “In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.” The “fact-checking” claim was, apparently, a ruse. Facebook never published the results of any fact-checking done on the article.

Twitter was even worse. The company banned the New York Post from the platform and blocked the story itself on Twitter. It also banned Twitter users from tweeting the story and even from sending it to one another via direct message. If one happened to find a link to the story on Twitter, a click brought this screen:

When users tried to access the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden and his laptop, this screen popped up to warn users of a “potentially spammy or unsafe” link.

Byron York

Now, of course, it’s all one big Never Mind. Except no one can go back and undo the damage Twitter and Facebook did. And the power the two social media giants exercised only served to heighten their already-strong inclination for censorship and cancellation. In the end, the new New York Times story on Hunter Biden says a little about Hunter Biden and a lot about some deeply troubling trends in our media world.

For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show — available on the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found. You can use this link to subscribe.

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