Thursday 22 October 2020

Dorsey admits blocking links to Biden story was wrong

As the CEO of Twitter stepped in, Facebook said it was 'reducing' the hacked story’s distribution on its platform while waiting for third-party fact-checkers to verify it

Twitter is often accused of a left-liberal bias, and its CEO Jack Dorsey has been on record admitting that his company’s staff suffered from a the bias . On Friday, he admitted it again in a different context.

Twitter was wrong to block weblinks to an unverified political story, CEO Jack Dorsey said on 16 October, as the micro-blogging site firm responded to criticism over its handling of the story that had prompted cries of censorship from the right.

“Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix,” he tweeted. “Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that,” he wrote.

Dorsey was reacted after an executive of the social media company announced changes late on 15 October to its policy on hacked content following an onslaught of criticism.

Twitter will no longer remove hacked material unless it’s directly shared by hackers or those working with them, the company’s head of legal, policy, trust and safety, Vijaya Gadde, said in a Twitter thread.

Instead of blocking links from being shared, tweets will be labeled to provide context, Gadde said. “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,” she said.

Twitter and Facebook had moved quickly this week to limit the spread of the story published by the conservative-leaning New York Post, which cited unverified emails from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s son that President Donald Trump’s allies reportedly discovered. Other publications have not yet confirmed the story.

Twitter had initially responded by banning users from sharing links to the article in tweets and direct messages. It said the tweets violated the company’s policy that prohibit s hacked content. But it didn’t alert users about why they couldn’t share the link until hours later.

Yesterday, Twitter reversed course and was allowing users to post the link.

Dorsey had first tweeted that it was “unacceptable” the company hadn’t provided more context around its action. A little over 24 hours later, Gadde announced the company was making changes after receiving “significant feedback (from critical to supportive)” about how it enforced the policy.

Meanwhile, Twitter’s rival Facebook said it was “reducing” the story’s distribution on its platform while waiting for third-party fact-checkers to verify it. This is something it regularly does with material that’s not banned outright from its service, though it risks spreading lies or causing harm in other ways. Facebook’s ‘fact-checking’ third parties notoriously lean towards the left, the Chinese state and Islamists.

Trump is now incorporating Twitter’s action into his campaign rallies, pleading with his supporters to send a message on the election day to what he described as “censors.”

“We’re not just running against Joe Biden. We’re running against left-wing media and we’re running against big tech,” Trump said.

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