On the 5th of October, the WHO’s Dr Michale Ryan claimed “about 10%” of the global population had been infected with Sars-Cov-2. With an alleged death toll of roughly 1 million, that puts the infection-fatality ratio at roughly 0.14%.
He said it, we reported it. The maths is not disputable. And yet Facebook has flagged it as “misinformation”…
Facebook’s global policy manager for content regulation, Anna Makanju, advised Joe Biden on Ukraine policy during his time as Vice President. She also defended Biden from charges of wrongdoing with regards to Ukraine in a comment to the Washington Post last year.
Her position as a senior employee at Facebook handling content regulation may have given her an opportunity to influence the social network’s decision to suppress a New York Post story revealing that Joe Biden’s son Hunter, then on a lucrative contract with the Ukrainian energy giant Burisma, introduced the then-Vice President to an executive at the company.
This occurred less than a year before the then-VP pressured the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company.
Makanju is also a fellow at the Atlantic Council, which partnered with Facebook in 2018 to promote “election integrity” around the world.
The only thing that should matter, when it comes to stories like this, is whether or not the material is true and in the public interest. This disturbing new confederation of media outlets and tech firms is rewriting that standard.
The optics of a former Democratic Party spokesman suddenly donning a Facebook official’s hat to announce a ban of a story damaging to Democrats couldn’t be worse. Moreover, the Orwellian construct described in papers like the Times suggests that for tech executives, pundits, and Democratic Party officials alike, the lines between fake news and bad news, between actual misinformation and information that is merely politically adverse, have been blurred. It’s no longer clear that some of these people see a meaningful distinction between the two ideas.
The public can’t help but see this. While papers like the Times denounce the true Podesta emails as “misinformation,” and Facebook says the New York Post story must be kept out of sight until verified, the standard for, say, the Steele dossier was and is opposite. In that case, we were told “raw intelligence” should be published so that “Americans can make up their own minds” about information that, while “salacious and unverified,” may still be freely read on Twitter and Facebook, reported on in the New York Times and Washington Post, and talked about on NBC, so long as it has not been completely “disproven.”
As Erik Wemple of the Washington Post points out, even that last point is no longer true, but the Steele dossier and plenty of other products of what Axios calls “hack and leak” journalism continue to be embraced and freely distributed. The obvious double-standard guarantees that the tech platforms will henceforth be viewed by a huge portion of the population as political censors instead of standards enforcers, and moreover that mainstream press pronouncements about such controversies will be deemed automatically untrustworthy by that same population.
Even more astonishing still, Twitter locked the account of the New York Post, banning the paper from posting any content all day and, evidently, into Thursday morning. The last tweet from the paper was posted at roughly 2:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
And then, on Thursday morning, the Post published a follow up article using the same archive of materials, this one purporting to detail efforts by the Vice President’s son to pursue lucrative deals with a Chinese energy company by using his father’s name. Twitter is now also banning the sharing or posting of links to that article as well.
In sum, the two Silicon Valley giants, with little explanation, united to prevent the sharing and dissemination of this article. As Los Angeles Times reporter Matt Pearce put it, “Facebook limiting distribution is a bit like if a company that owned newspaper delivery trucks decided not to drive because it didn’t like a story. Does a truck company edit the newspaper? It does now, apparently.”
Yesterday, the New York Post published several articles claiming to show evidence of corruption on the part of Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The charges are varied but not really surprising. One article claims Hunter introduced his father to a Ukrainian energy magnate who asked the family to use their influence to shut down an investigation into his company.
Another story suggests Hunter Biden used his family name to secure a high-paid job and stock interests in a Chinese company.
The NYP evidence these claims with emails and documents allegedly retrieved from a laptop left at a computer repair store in Delaware. The owner of the store alerted the FBI to the computer’s existence when no one came forward to pay for the repairs and he could not contact the owner.
According to the NYP, both the hard drive and laptop were then seized by the FBI. They have a copy of the grand jury subpoena, which is certainly solid evidence, if genuine.
The owner of the store claims he, prior to it being seized, made a copy of the hard drive and sent it to Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s lawyer.
While this is potentially intriguing, if true, it’s not really “news”. Biden’s corruption in Ukraine has been evident since his son was appointed to the board of the largest energy company in Ukraine within weeks of the US-backed coup in 2014 (a decision so obviously dodgy even the Guardian made a joke out of it). Joe Biden himself has even admitted to applying financial pressure to get a Ukrainian State Prosecutor removed from office.
None of this is really “big news”. Corruption is rampant in the halls of power, that is as certain as death and taxes, and will continue to be so, whether or not these specific allegations are accurate.
The big news, the part of this story that should concern everyone, is that Twitter has completely blocked this material on their platform.
And we’re not talking a “soft block”, we at OffG are more than familiar with twitter’s use of “warnings”, no they literally made it impossible to share the links, even in DMs. If you try, you get his warning:
We can’t complete this request because this link has been identified by Twitter or our partners as being potentially harmful. Visit our Help Center to learn more.”
We’ve talked about twitter’s “partners” before, and they are suspect. As for being “potentially harmful”, well isn’t that subjective? Fire is vital at times, but certainly “potentially harmful” at others. Water, in sufficient quantity, is “potentially harmful”.
If you’re a liar, the truth is “potentially harmful”.
Facebook has followed suit, if in less sweeping fashion. The social media giant’s spokesperson Andy Stone announced that they would be:
“…reducing its distribution on our platform. This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.
This decision is pending approval by their “independent fact-checkers”, which we have also covered in detail before.
So what are the social media companies’
excuses reasons for blocking this content?
Well, it depends who you ask.
Twitter claims that since the emails are potentially “hacked”, posting them violates their policy regarding illegally gathered material. (Interestingly this policy was never applied to Trump’s leaked tax returns.)
Facebook, on the other hand, claim to have blocked these stories because they might be “misinformation”. A truly ludicrous precedent to set. You can’t block something that might not be true, because that applies to literally almost everything.
You do have to admire the strategy though. The pincer movement is brilliant.