Getty Images | Peter Dazeley
Twitter changed its policy on sharing hacked material following criticism of its decision to prevent users from tweeting links to a New York Post article that contained emails from Hunter Biden that were allegedly accessed from a computer left in a repair shop.
On Wednesday, Twitter announced that it had blocked links to the Post story for containing private information and for violating Twitter's Hacked Materials Policy, which prohibits sharing links to or images of hacked content. But Twitter legal advisor Vijaya Gadde wrote in a thread late Thursday night that the company "decided to make changes to the policy [on hacked materials] and how we enforce it" after receiving "significant feedback".
Twitter issued the policy in 2018 "to prevent and mitigate damage related to hacks and the unauthorized disclosure of private information," wrote Gadde. "We have tried to strike the right balance between people's privacy and freedom of expression, but we can do better." As a result, Twitter is changing its policy on hacked materials to "not remove hacked content unless shared directly by hackers or those who work with them". Twitter will also "flag tweets to provide context rather than preventing links from being shared on Twitter".
Twitter spokesman Brandon Borrman wrote that the Post article is still blocked because "the materials in the article still violate our rules for sharing personal information." However, today I was able to tweet a link to the post story and the block seems to be lifted.
Twitter CEO: "Blocking URLs directly was wrong"
Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, admitted that Twitter handled the post situation badly, writing on Wednesday that "blocking url sharing via tweet or DM with no context why we are blocking [was] unacceptable". Commenting on the policy change today, Dorsey commented on the policy change, "Directly blocking URLs was wrong and we have updated our policies and enforcement to address this. Our goal is to add context and now we have the opportunity to do so to do."
The headline in the post for the story in question reads: "The email with the smoke gun shows how Hunter Biden introduced the Ukrainian businessman to the VP father." But as the Poynter Institute's PolitiFact noted, the emails quoted in the Post article do not establish that such a meeting ever took place.
While Twitter completely blocked links to the story, Facebook instead reduced the distribution.