Twitter Changes Hacked Materials Policy After Republicans Threaten Jack Dorsey of Subpoena

  • Twitter will no longer block the links to hacked materials and instead label them after the controversy surrounding the Hunter Biden story erupted

  • Republicans Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham from the Senate Judiciary Committee said Twitter CEO need to appear before a panel to explain abuse of power

After the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden's story, Twitter will no longer block links or remove contents that were obtained from hacking attempts. Twitter blocked links to two stories on Hunter Biden, son of the former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who is also the Democratic Presidential Election nominee, by the New York Post.

Twitter's actions were heavily criticized by the conservative media and Republicans who threatened to subpoena the social media giant's CEO, Jack Dorsey.

In its updated policy, Twitter will now label tweets to provide context instead of blocking them. However, if the content is directly shared by a hacker or a hacker group, Twitter will still block the links. Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's Legal, Policy and Trust and Safety Lead, announced the changes in the policy on Thursday (October 16) to address the concerns.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square and CEO of Twitter, speaks during an interview
Republican senators threatened Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, with a subpoena Reuters

"We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences to journalists, whistleblowers and others in ways that are contrary to Twitter's purpose of serving the public conversation," Gadde said in a series of Tweets.

Why The Changes?

After New York Post published two articles on Joe Biden's son, Hunter who allegedly introduced his father to an official from a Ukrainian energy company Burisma. The email exchanges were less than a year before Biden pressured the Ukraine government to fire a prosecutor who was instigating the company. The leaked data also contained images of Hunter. The New York Post said it sourced the materials from Rudy Giuliani, a Republican, who received it from a computer repair store owner.

The problem was that the stories also revealed business email IDs of all the parties involved and that was against Twitter's policy. The platform had blocked many hackers' group page, including Maze, for revealing sensitive personal information.

Facebook, instead of blocking the links to the stories, limited the reach while the story was being fact-checked. But Twitter sought to block the links completely. Furthermore, accounts of anyone who shared the links were suspended from the platform including Trump's campaign and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

twitter response
Twitter updated its policy on sharing hacked materials Twitter/ Vijaya Gadde

After the stories broke, the Biden campaign refuted the corruption allegations but didn't deny the email exchanges between Hunter and Bursima official. Many Americans including Democrats believed that the stories were part of an attempt to malign Biden's image before the election as he led Trump in the latest polls. It should also be noted that the Post is owned by News Corp of Rupert Murdoch who also owns the conservative Fox News channel.

Subpoena for Dorsey

Amid the controversy, Republicans including the President weren't happy. Texas' Republican senator Ted Cruz, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley said that a panel would vote on issuing a subpoena to Dorsey, forcing him to appear before the committee on October 23.

Cruz said Dorsey must come before the committee and "explain why Twitter is abusing its corporate power to silence the press and cover-up the allegation of corruption." He further added that the "big tech billionaires don't get to silence political speech and actively interfere in the elections."

Dorsey in a tweet on October 15 said that blocking the material without providing content was unacceptable. However, with the policy change, it is unclear if Cruz or the Republican-led committee will push for a subpoena, especially days before the election. Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee Kamala Harris is also a part of the committee.

Related topics : Cybersecurity Us election 2020 Us presidential election