GOP-led House panel probes Twitter’s block of Hunter Biden story

by Jacob Fuller

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives sought to deliver on a campaign promise with a public hearing on how the federal government and social media platforms colluded to censor and discredit the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop.

Even before the proceedings began, the White House denounced the hearing as “a bizarre political stunt” motivated by denial of Biden’s 2020 election victory over Republican former President Donald Trump. Proponents of the hearing, however, see federal government collusion in censorship and potential international influence peddling by the president’s son as important topics for the House Oversight Committee to probe.

The committee heard former Twitter executives testify under subpoena about the social media platform’s efforts to limit discussion of the laptop’s contents two weeks ahead of the 2020 election.

The hearing marked the first public proceedings of an investigation into the Biden family’s business dealings led by committee Chairman James Comer, who has accused Hunter Biden of leveraging his father’s political influence to pursue lucrative international business deals.

Naturally, Democrats moved throughout the hearings to paint the investigation as a MAGA-controlled, election-denying circus.

“This appears to be the latest effort by the House Republican majority’s most extreme MAGA members to question and re-litigate the outcome of the 2020 election,” White House spokesperson Ian Sams said in a statement.

In reality, the proceedings focused on Twitter’s decision to temporarily block tweets about a New York Post article on the laptop, which the former Twitter executives said they mistakenly believed contained hacked material in violation of its policy.

Republicans described the decision as part of a conspiracy to suppress revelations about Hunter Biden and his father ahead of the 2020 election, saying it coincided with a letter by former intelligence officers describing the laptop as Russian disinformation.

“America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news, and the intelligence community to suppress and de-legitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents,” Comer said.

The former Twitter executives acknowledged that blocking the New York Post tweets was an error and said they reversed the decision within 24 hours.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, said the tweets of the New York Post article included images that looked like they might have been obtained through hacking.

“We had developed a policy intended to prevent Twitter from becoming a dumping ground for hacked materials. We applied this policy to the New York Post’s tweets and blocked links to articles,” Gadde said.

The former executives said Twitter’s policies were intended to mitigate content that could lead to political violence.

“I am here to tell you that doing nothing is not an option. If we continue to do nothing, violence is going to happen again,” said Anika Collier Navaroli, a former member of Twitter’s U.S. safety policy team.

The social platform has since been purchased by billionaire Elon Musk, who many Republicans view as a champion of free speech.

Hunter Biden’s attorney Abbe Lowell recently threatened legal action against those who publicized the laptop’s contents on the grounds of it being private property, a move that seemingly admits the laptop and the information thereon did belong to Hunter Biden.

Biden’s legal team requested investigations into “individuals for whom there is considerable reason to believe violated various federal laws in accessing, copying, manipulating, and/or disseminating Mr. Biden’s personal computer data.”

Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters. Edits and additions by Jacob Fuller, FISM News.