Matt Taibbi’s story about Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story

Have folks tried to follow and understand the story about Twitter’s pre-election-2020 suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story and other material that politicians asked them to deep-six?

I think there is supposed to be a narrative in here, but it is so chopped up by the presentation as individual tweets that it is tough to follow.

Has Matt Taibbi mostly proved that Twitter needs a substantial re-thinking to be suitable for long-form text? (I think tweets should be allowed at any length up to the standard relational database CLOB (character large object) limit of 2 billion characters, but a reader sees only a short summary (that long-form authors are forced to craft) until he/she/ze/they clicks “more”)

Readers: Have you figured out whether there is anything of interest in this reveal of internal Twitter machinations?

Update: In the official NYT version of history, Twitter’s shaping of what viewpoints people could express (or send to each other in private messages) never happened. The front page of the NYT time has space to talk about “notable diversity” of the U.S. World Cup team, but there is nothing about the Twitter files reveal. (Separately, I dispute that the US team is diverse. There are no gender ID requirements for World Cup players and yet for some reason players of only one gender ID have been selected.)

(Joe Biden’s granddaughter also does not exist according to the NYT. A search for plaintiff “Lunden” Roberts or granddaughter “Navy Joan” yields no results on

65 thoughts on “Matt Taibbi’s story about Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story

    • Why is it damning? User A complains that he/she/ze/they doesn’t want to see User B’s post and suggests, perhaps citing a Twitter policy against “hate speech” or something else that is subjective, that it be removed. That happens all the time in online forums, e.g., with spam, commercial ads in what are supposed to be non-commercial environments, etc. Biden wasn’t president at the time so it can’t be a First Amendment issue. What’s proven is that Twitter employees wanted Biden to win and worked to shape the content to achieve that? We already knew that!

    • The Hunter Biden story was an extraordinary situation, and I’m not surprised it received extraordinary treatment.

      Can anyone hear the story and find it credible?

      The claim is that Hunter Biden dropped off 3 laptops to a blind computer repairman, who took the laptops to work on them, but couldn’t see well enough to identify who actually gave him the machines.

      Hunter then never came to pick those machines up.

      The repairman, being a good citizen, and being highly concerned about the content of those laptops, called Rudy Giuliani.

      This story was shopped around to many news outlets before the election, and several outlets spoke to the shop owner, but nobody found the story credible, so they wouldn’t publish the story.

      The only outlet to publish the story was the NY Post, and it sounds like those writers did it against their will because they asked for their names to be removed from the story. So it appears there was not a single writer at any outlet who was willing to repeat this story under their own byline.

      I think it was later determined that Hunter was in California when one of these machines was dropped off, so it’s up for others to determine who delivered these machines.

      When a story like this shows up 2 weeks before an election, what should be done with it?

      * It’s also worth comparing it to another story — the Steele Dossier. Every major news outlet had this story before the election, but none of them ran it because they didn’t have enough confidence in it. So anyone claiming “the media only holds back left-wing bad news” is clearly conveniently ignoring this.

    • > When a story like this shows up 2 weeks before an election, what should be done with it?

      It should be reported and investigated. If the investigation takes time, report what is known at the time.

      As an example, the laptop contains emails. The emails show who they are to and from. Ask the people who seem to have sent them if they would be willing to supply the message sent to an address at a certain time, and check that the body of the email matches.

      We have now had two presidential elections where incriminating emails show up in the month before people vote. We should establish a norm that these things get published instead of having a person in the FBI or the media make a judgement call at the last minute.

    • > It should be reported and investigated.

      Are we talking about Twitter or outlets like the NY Times?

      In the case of Twitter, I suspect things were moving very quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitter’s content moderation guy got a 5am call with “This story looks highly suspicious. What should we do?”, and had to make an near-instant decision after never have heard of this story before.

      In the case of the Steele Dossier, if the NY Times got that two weeks before the election, should they have written a short story “We’re hearing a rumor that Trump is being blackmailed by Putin with of a pee tape. We have no proof, but we’re looking at it, and just wanted everyone to know what we’ve heard.”

      It’s generally a good practice to not report rumor, especially if the rumor is coming from a suspect source.

    • These discussions about proper way to handle leaks are nice in theory, where an abstract allegation shows up at the last minute.

      The issue here is that the FBI & CIA apparently knew that the laptop was real but chose to lie in a signed letter in order to get pretext to have it censored in the run-up to the election. That is why this is such a pernicious scandal.

      Additionally, the FBI and CIA were reportedly in communication the Twitter and Facebook several days BEFORE the laptop was released, because they knew it was coming. Miranda Devine, who writes for NY Post, has said she has seen sworn affidavits from Twitter employees to that effect.

      There’s a question of whether the dustup between Apple and Twitter related to deterring Elon Musk from releasing direct e-mails between CIA and Twitter falsely attesting to the inauthenticity of the laptop. How did the CIA knew the dump was coming in advance? Possible they had Rudy Giuliani under FISA surveillance due to his involvement with Trump’s Ukraine call. That would explain how CIA knew the dump was coming so they could preemptively give disinformation to Twitter and Facebook.

      There’s a lot more going on here than most people know. Getting a complete answer is exceptionally unlikely given the deep involvement of the intelligence community in throwing the election; remember the FBI offered to pay Christopher Steele a $1 million bounty to prove the dossier; when he couldn’t they treated it as true anyway. It’s Watergate on steroids, with the media as bagmen.

      Moreover we’re seeing the same lie and censor dynamic play out in other arenas, including the likely Covid-19 lab leak, the efficacy of vaccines, and the lies told to the courts about stopping transmission in an attempt to pressure them into ratifying OSHA mandates. Ask yourself why.

    • > > It should be reported and investigated.
      > Are we talking about Twitter or outlets like the NY Times?

      I mean news outlets. The NY Times should do this, as should every other news outlet.

      Twitter is a communications service. I don’t expect them to investigate anything, just as I don’t expect the phone company or the postal service to decide what facts can be sent using the phone or mail.

      > In the case of Twitter, I suspect things were moving very quickly.

      Yes, they were in a bind. That is why the decision to publish should not be in their hands.

      Make a norm that the news reports what people say, with whatever context can be had at the time. The listener is expected to be an adult, and decide what to believe. If this was the social norm, no one would ask Twitter employees to decide what facts need to be suppressed.

      > In the case of the Steele Dossier, if the NY Times got that two weeks before the election, should they have written a short story “We’re hearing a rumor that Trump is being blackmailed by Putin with of a pee tape. We have no proof, but we’re looking at it, and just wanted everyone to know what we’ve heard.”

      The NYT should try to figure out what the truth is. Assuming that they can’t do so in a day or two, printing what they know and being clear about what they don’t know is the best they can do. If all they know is what you put in quotes, then that is all they can/should write.

      > It’s generally a good practice to not report rumor, especially if the rumor is coming from a suspect source.

      If that policy was evenly applied, I could see value in it. But I don’t see any news source doing so. The NYT reports rumors that hurt team-red (Putin has a pee-tape) but refuses to print rumors that hurt team-blue (Hunter Biden’s Laptop has emails arranging bribes intended for Joe).

      Until you can get the bias out of the process of deciding what a rumor is based on who it helps politically, I believe we are better off demanding that news outlets acknowledge the existence of rumors, and explain in the story why they believe the rumor is false/misleading/unimportant. A norm that they can ignore the rumor they find inconvenient is how we get a world where we don’t agree on the set of facts from which we draw conclusions.

    • > If that policy was evenly applied, I could see value in it. But I don’t see any news source doing so. The NYT reports rumors that hurt team-red (Putin has a pee-tape) but refuses to print rumors that hurt team-blue

      Corindal — In Sept of 2016, 2 months before the election, the Steele Dossier was shown to The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, ABC News and others, and none of them decided to publish anything about it because they couldn’t corroborate the claims.

      Isn’t that an example of consistent treatment?

      People complaining about the Hunter Biden story should know or remember this.

    • As others have pointed out, Twitter is not a newspaper or publisher. The New York Post needed to decide whether 10% for the Big Guy was authentic or not, but Twitter didn’t need to pass judgment on a published New York Post story. If Twitter were a publisher they’d have to review every tweet for accuracy, libel, etc.
      They obviously don’t want that responsibility.

    • David wrote:

      Corindal — In Sept of 2016, 2 months before the election, the Steele Dossier was shown to The Washington Post, The New York Times, The New Yorker, ABC News and others, and none of them decided to publish anything about it because they couldn’t corroborate the claims.

      Isn’t that an example of consistent treatment?

      If this is true, then the NYT was consistent in ignoring two stories initially. If the goal was to limit the spread of the rumor, then the NYT failed completely. How many members of team-blue didn’t hear about the pee-tape? How many members of team-red were not aware that Hunter Biden was soliciting bribes for his father’s services? In a world where rumors will get through, it would be better for the news sources to tell readers what the rumors are, what has been debunked, and what is unknown.

      There is a separate issue in play here: Should twitter have suppressed the “Russia-collusion” rumors, or the “Hunter Biden’s laptop” rumors? In this case, there was no symmetry. Twitter allowed the team-blue hysterics, and suppressed an entire news source for saying true things that they thought might be rumors because team-blue partisans said so. That is unforgivable.

    • > How many members of team-red were not aware that Hunter Biden was soliciting bribes for his father’s services?

      Corindal — From what I can tell, every right-winger seems to think this, but what’s the evidence?

      What favors did Joe do in exchange for bribes, either for him or for Hunter?

    • “””
      > How many members of team-red were not aware that Hunter Biden was soliciting bribes for his father’s services?

      Corindal — From what I can tell, every right-winger seems to think this, but what’s the evidence?

      What favors did Joe do in exchange for bribes, either for him or for Hunter?

      The claim is “Hunter Biden was soliciting bribes for his father’s services”.

      The evidence is emails in which Hunter asks for $$ in exchange for actions. Joe is referred to as “the big guy”. He is the only person who could take such actions.

      I do not know of evidence that Joe actually took action. I do not know of evidence that Joe knew what his son was doing. And I did not claim to have it. If I offer to get Joe Biden to do X after you pay me a million dollars, then I solicited a bribe for Joe Biden’s services. If you pay me, you will be disappointed 😉

      I do find it absurdly unlikely that Joe Biden did not ask where his son gets money from. I know that if a republican vice president bragged to the press about getting a country to fire an allegedly corrupt prosecutor by threatening to withhold aid, and the press later learned that the prosecutor was investigating the company that hired that republican’s son as a board member, and the son’s only “work experience” was getting kicked out of the navy for a drug problem, the US press would report on it. The corruption is just too obvious to ignore, as long as the person who is guilty has an R next to their name on a ballot.

    • Corindal — You can see my other posts in this thread.

      My claim is that Hunter was going around renting his last name in order to give sketching groups the appearance of creditability.

      This is unethical, and unseemly, but not illegal (in most cases).

      Hunter should have known that he was harming his dad’s reputation. Can you imagine doing this while your dad was gearing up for a presidential run? What a dirtbag.

      I’m sure Joe knew his son’s actions weren’t above board, but didn’t (or couldn’t) put his foot down.

      As for Joe not knowing about these things, I find it fully credible that Joe did his best to ignore Hunter’s actions, partly to keep himself and the govt clean, and partly to avoid thinking about what it revealed about his son.

      Might be worth remembering that Joe’s other son died in 2015, so Hunter is his only remaining son.

    • I mixed up the FBI and CIA, ooops. Always better to reference the primary source.

      Here is Miranda Devine’s reporting on the Twitter files:

      Elon Musk half-delivered on his promise to tell all about Twitter’s censorship of The New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story before the 2020 election. What was missing were details of specific warnings we know the FBI made to Twitter about a Russian “hack and leak operation” involving Hunter during their weekly meetings with top executives of the social media giant in the days and weeks before The Post published its exclusive bombshell.

    • It’s good to know our civil rights rely on junk science manufactured by the Feds.

      Here is the primary source material “THE SCIENCE” used by the Sixth Circuit court when it removed the stay on the OSHA vaccine and mask mandate in December 2021:

      Regarding the vaccine component of the ETS, OSHA explained the importance of
      vaccination to combat the transmission of COVID-19 and relied upon studies demonstrating the “power of vaccines to safely protect individuals,” including from the Delta variant. Id. at 61,432, 61,450. Extensive evidence cited by OSHA shows that vaccination “reduce[s] the presence and severity of COVID-19 cases in the workplace,” and effectively “ensur[es]” that workers are protected from being infected and infecting others. Id. at 61,434, 61,520, 61,528–29 (citing studies). Likewise, the face-covering-and-test facet of the ETS is similarly designed based on the scientific evidence to reduce the risk of transmission and infection of COVID-19. Regular testing “is essential because SARS-CoV-2 infection is often attributable to asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission.” Id. at 61,438 (citing studies). And wearing a face covering provides an additional layer of protection, designed to reduce “exposure to the respiratory droplets of co-workers and others[, and] . . . to significantly reduce the wearer’s ability to spread the virus.” Id. at 61,439.

      Vaccinated employees are significantly less likely to bring (or if infected, spread) the
      virus into the workplace. Id. 61,418–19. And testing in conjunction with wearing a face
      covering “will further mitigate the potential for unvaccinated workers to spread the virus at the workplace.” Id. at 61,439. Based on the evidence relied on by OSHA, these measures will “protect workers” from the grave dangers presented by COVID-19 in the workplace. See
      29 U.S.C. § 655(c)(1). And OSHA is required to minimize a grave danger, even if it cannot
      eliminate it altogether. Nat’l Grain & Feed Ass’n v. Occupational Safety & Health Admin.,
      866 F.2d 717, 737 (5th Cir. 1988).

    • How so? In 2020, the Biden team was a group of private individuals. President Biden was a private individual. The DNC is a private organization. If the Biden team or his campaign wasn’t doing everything it possibly could to lobby to have negative information of any kind, including tweets deleted. They weren’t doing a very good job of trying to get him elected.

      None of that is illegal. A private organization can ask for things to be censored all they want. A private organization/ company can censor things all they want.
      There are a few specific exceptions: apparently a sitting president cannot have their Twitter account censored if they’re using it for official business. There may be some question about banning bona fide journalists Twitter accounts, but that’s not clear. The average person is out of luck. Advertisers, companies out of luck – Twitter or Facebook can ban people advertisers companies pretty much whoever they want. Just look at Kanye. His speech was legal reprehensible but legal. And protected by the first amendment. It ain’t protected on Twitter

    • How is that in any way damning? Joe Biden was a private citizen in 2020. The DNC is a private organization. The Biden campaign was private individuals and an organization. None of them are the government, all of them are allowed to legally lobby a private company to remove content they feel is wrong, or just they don’t like.

      Contrary to what many posters on here believe, news organizations are not required to print anything. They can bury any story they want and it’s 100% legal. Outside of Texas, social media companies have that same protection. Perhaps the supreme court will take the case.

    • Well, the writer of the original tweet seems to be an idiot. Holy s*** is not what I would say. Nothing in there is damning. Joe Biden was a private citizen in 2020. The DNC is a private organization dedicated to electing Democrats into office. If they were not lobbying to have content removed that potentially shows their candidate in a bad light, they are doing something wrong. The Biden campaign was a group of individuals and an organization private, not the government.

      Unless you’re the government, you can’t infringe free speech. You can’t sue an individual for infringing your right free speech, you literally cannot do it.

      Until the Supreme Court rules that social media companies are common carriers, Twitter, just like every news organization in the country can suppress Ban, bury, or report on anything or any story they choose.

      Twitter can ban accounts, except for the president and government officials as their official communications, potentially news media, but that’s not clear because the case was settled. Just ask Kanye.

      Now let’s talk about Kanye. His horrible and disgusting speech recently and on the Alex Jones show is protected under the First Amendment. Twitter doesn’t have to follow the First Amendment. If they did they couldn’t have banned him.

  1. I found Taibbi’s tweets to be inscrutable. I am #notatwitterexpert so maybe people who are more into this stuff are able to make sense of it. I find it hard to believe that Taibbi thought this was the best way to publish this information. My main takeaway is that Taibbi and Musk must have colluded, and that Musk’s primary goal with this leak is to drive Twitter engagement.

  2. I have been banned from Twitter for a long time and I just checked and my account has not been restored.

    • TS: Maybe if you admitted your thoughtcrime and said “I DO care about Black Lives Matter”, they would let you back in?

    • That is of course why I was banned! I recall I was given an opportunity to delete my forbidden tweet but I did not do so within the allotted time so alas I was banned. Interestingly I don’t think I had more than a half dozen followers.

  3. One of the issues is that Twitter selectively used the “hacked materials” policy as an excuse for the Hunter Biden laptop censorship while allowing the GiveSendGo donor leak during the Canadian Trucker protests.

    The GiveSendGo leak was a real hack, the Hunter Biden story wasn’t (I feel uneasy about repairmen reading customer data, but it wasn’t a hack and when they see something unusual they are probably forced to report it).

    • Anon: A group of Science-following progressives in San Francisco releasing the names and addresses of the Deplorables who backed the Canadian anti-lockdown anti-forced-vaccination insurrectionists is a dog-bites-man story! (Separately, remember that folks who protest against government coercion in China are good, while those who staged an insurrection in Canada are bad.)

      So I’m still waiting for something dramatically new and surprising from the Twitter files!

    • Twitter doesn’t even have to give a reason they can choose to give a reason if they want to.

      Regardless of some posts to the contrary Twitter is not a common carrier. Texas treats social media companies as if they were common carriers but the rest of the country doesn’t and it’s not federal law.

      Twitter can be as arbitrary and capricious as Fox News is with good journalism. Just like the New York Times could bury the hunter Biden laptop story cuz they don’t have to report things.

      Internet bulletin boards like ones on which people can get a free account and users are limited to posts about their travails with benzodiazepines (yes there is one it’s called, are not common carriers. They can permaban anybody they want. Why does scale make Twitter different? Twitter is not a monopoly.

  4. The real issue here is that every major policy debate of our time has another “Hunter Biden Laptop” (minus the porn with foreign hookers) that is being suppressed.

    Twitter internal discussion, April 2021:
    Employee #1: How was WH:crossed_fingers::skin-tone-3:!?
    Employee #2: Overall, pretty good! they had one really tough question about why Alex Berenson hasn’t been kicked off from the platform;…

    By the way, this is why the Hunter Biden laptop mattered even though it occurred before Biden was president:
    Taibbi confirms that Twitter exec Vijaya Gadde played a key role in suppressing the Oct. 2020 Hunter Biden laptop story. Gadde was later appointed by the Biden admin to an advisory role shaping the Department of Homeland Security’s “disinfo” policy.

    • Steve: the Righteous on Twitter and Facebook right now are saying that the only thing that the laptop contained was “revenge porn” and that, therefore, Twitter was justified in suppressing the story. There is no mention of or interest in “the big guy” who was on track to get “10” (10 percent or $10 million?). Apparently, the fix is to rewrite history so that all the laptop ever contained was photos and that there weren’t any emails. Because there were no emails there wasn’t any text related to how the Biden family was getting money or from whom; it was all about how a member of the Biden family was spending money on prostitutes and drugs (then wasting the rest!). So there was nothing of legitimate public interest on the laptop, just evidence of a private citizen being a customer of the commercial sex industry and enjoying some drugs that will, presumably, soon be legalized.

    • As I hinted in the previous comment, I believe the focus on the Hunter Biden laptop is unfortunate, because it is filled with smut, and leads to a politically fraught fights between partisans of two bad candidates.

      The larger picture is that every significant political debate today is subject to secretive censorship of issues every bit as significant as “10% for the Big Guy.” It shouldn’t be about the election.

      Moreover, we can engage in legalisms over private companies, monopoly power, and first amendment all we want, but the larger reality is the Vijaya Gadde was “promoted” to DHS Disinfo Advisor for a reason. It’s the same revolving door pattern that has emerged throughout the regulatory state; she does the government’s bidding at a private company, and as a reward she gets remunerations and promotions from the government. In turn, she can leverage her status in government to return to the private sector as a “regulatory expert.”

      As such, it hardly matters if she was nominally private sector. The regulatory revolving door has moved from the EPA Sue-and-Settle scams, to direct attacks on the First Amendment through revolving door Censor-and-Cancel scams.

  5. I thought it was a useless way to try to understand what happened. The tweet format does not allow for a coherent narrative and then whatever narrative there is following half a dozen tweets on point is is soon hijacked by comedians and people whose objective is to silence the discussion. My takeaway is about the same as it has been for several years — that dem operatives working with twitter employees blocked a legitimate story that seemed to indicate serious corruption on the part of the “big guy”– but who ultimately was responsible is unclear.

  6. Matt’s substack is usually pretty good journalism, but this Twitter foray makes him look clumsy and a little desperate. I don’t want Biden to run again (if you hadn’t noticed, he did win this election Matt is clutching his pearls about, so we need to look at the NEXT one). Nevertheless I will vote for a ham sandwich over the former guy.
    Will somebody please DJT out of his misery (and find a viable Democrat)?

  7. @David, even if the story of how the data got collected is farcical to someone like you (it is not entirely out of the realm of reality, people ignorant of technology , i.e. most of the consumers, get caught with criminal evidence all the time when sending their computers for repairs), the amount of materials (text, emails, voice messages, photos) and corroborated stories from witnesses is overwhelming. It has also been verified by many already. And now even the MSM agree – the cache of data is real.

    So are you saying that because you doubt the story of how the information was acquired, you don’t think any of it is real? Just because some ‘intelligence experts’ signed some letter declaring it to be russian misinformation without having looked at it themselves?

    Interesting train of thought there…

    • Deutschman — I think the contents are real.

      But there’s a big difference between

      – What we know now, after months of looking into it
      – What they knew that morning, when they first heard of the story

      There’s another distinction that’s important

      – Are the contents real?
      – Is the origin story real?

      The Russians have a history of stealing sensitive data, then releasing it in an attempt to cause problems.

      Remember the internal DNC emails that the Russian stole and released in an attempt to hurt Hillary?

      Stealing files from Hunter and releasing them would be a near-exact repeat of this.

      And given that:

      (1) We know the Russian preferred Trump
      (2) We know the Russians have a pattern of hacking and releasing sensitive information
      (3) The information came through Rudy, who was actively being worked by Russian agents
      (4) The origin story seems too ridiculous to believe

      .. it’s very plausible to think two things at once — the contents are real, and it was a Russian plot to meddle in the election.

      Do you find this plausible?

      And finally, the last reason the content is credible: the story is a nothingburger.

      Everyone on the right repeats “10% for the big guy” as if this proves something shady about Joe.

      But we already know that Hunter is a dirtbag who was using his last name to make money everywhere he could. And he tried to somehow involve his dad. But as far as I can tell, it never actually happened.

      You might remember that Joe was making millions giving speeches. And if he wanted to make money doing corporate work, was there any shortage of US companies that would hire him into some figurehead role? See Paul Ryan as board member at Fox.

      What are the odds that someone who was already making a ton of money while eyeing a run for the presidency wanted an extra role set up by his son with a shady company in China? I see why Hunter wanted this. But why would Joe want to take part?

      I’ll ask you directly — What do you think _Joe_ did wrong? And what’s the evidence?

    • Twitter is a private company that can remove accounts or ban them if they want to. They don’t have to be fair with respect to Democrats and Republicans. As long as employees don’t break company policy they can have a bias if they want. The only people that can’t censor speech is the government acting in their official capacity.

      Joe Biden wasn’t president in 2020. The DNC is a private organization, dedicated to electing Democrats. If they weren’t lobbying Twitter to get all kinds of tweets that painted any of their candidates and a bad light deleted, they aren’t doing a good job. The Biden campaign is a private organization. In 2020, the Biden team was a private organization. He could call up and ask Twitter to delete any tweet he wanted. Michelle Obama can send a tweet or an email requesting that a tweet is deleted, or President Trump’s Twitter account. Account. Since he was guilty of fomenting insurrection they probably should have banned his account.

      It’s ridiculous that apparently so many people failed civics class.

  8. In retrospect, given their personal progressive political beliefs, what’s shocking is how subtle the propaganda and opinion shepherding artists at Twitter were. They allowed quite a bit of wrongthink on the platform, e.g., references to Fox News or Breitbart. Just enough that people could imagine that Twitter itself was a neutral information exchange. They saved up their up their power to use just before the 2020 election.

    Separately, I think the biggest effect on the election from social media is not censorship of dissent from the Democrat party line. It is the constant reminders to vote from the social network itself. for example. It says it is “non-partisan” but of course the result is a huge increase in the number of votes for Democrats. Combined with the coronapanic-justified changes in how voting is accomplished, Facebook and similar social media have completely changed the American electorate. Votes used to be just from people who would take the effort to walk, bike, or drive to the polls. Now votes are from anyone who has the energy to drop a form in the mail. That’s a totally different group of people.

    (The biggest change, of course, has happened over 200 years. Voters used to be people who’d worked for 8 years (men started working at 13 and voted at 21). Voters are now people who have never worked and, often, will never work for more than handful of years. Compared to 1822, therefore, we predictably have a government and legal environment that are much more favorable to those who don’t work.)

    • -philg People thinking Twitter is a neutral information site? Give me a break. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It’s literally a forum for people to post whatever the hell they want. 400 million people each with their own b******* tweets.

      Anybody who thinks Twitter is neutral and would use information on Twitter to determine who to vote for is an idiot.

      And what’s the problem with censorship by private companies? It’s not illegal. It’s not unconstitutional. Every single company in the world does it. They censor their employees speech. They tell them what clothing to wear. Some say you can’t be on a social media platform. And that’s 100% legal. And if you buck the system you get fired.

      8 years of not working out of a 50 or 60 year working career. Give me a break. It was 1822. People died at 45.

    • You do realize that Fox News has a Twitter account, don’t you?

      Just like Fox News, Twitter can decide what it prints and what it suppresses. Fox News reports what it wants to, the New York Times can or the New York Times can choose to bury the story.

      No news organization is required to print anything. They don’t want to or air anything. They don’t want to or tweet anything they don’t want to.

      Why should Twitter have to allow tweets on their platform they don’t like?

      I hope you’re not implying that Fox News reports all the news, cuz they certainly don’t. They report a lot of things that the New York Post does, but they also report what Fox News and Rupert Murdoch’s agenda is. If you believe anything other than that, you’re a fool.

  9. What I don’t understand is why the majority of Big name news and social media and the majority of Big companies are so anti republican in their reporting and support. Isn’t it the republican’s hands-off governing policies that gives the media and companies the freedom to do what they want and like? So why so anti-republican?

    • @ George

      No. George, it’s not.
      News media and, until the Supreme Court takes up the case, social media companies, are protected by the First Amendment. The Republicans can’t put hands on. The Constitution prevents it.

      However, the first amendment does not mean that Fox News has to broadcast anything they don’t want, or the New York Times. News organizations can print or dump or suppress anything they want. They don’t have to report a story.

      I think it’s more along the lines that they’re more Democratic leaning because the Republicans don’t want people to do anything, say anything, read anything, learn anything, be anything, or love anything other than what the Republicans think people should be allowed to do, say, read, learn, be, or love. The majority of Republicans are bigots of the highest order. The majority of Republicans as a rule dislike or outright hate poor people, non-white people, LGBTQIA, people that smoke marijuana, people that want affordable health insurance, among other people.

      If you actually have to say, some of my best friends are black, Hispanic, Latino, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, Catholic, atheist, and so on, you’re probably a bigot.

  10. Twitter isn’t a news organization.

    Two days after Twitter’s blocking of the Post’s Hunter Biden stories, Dorsey issued a mea culpa for the company’s actions.

    2 days is how long people couldn’t see the stories. 2 days. They weren’t permabanned. It was 2 days.

    • > Twitter isn’t a news organization.

      Indeed. It is hiding behind the safe harbor clause that exempts them from moderation. Therefore people correctly think that Twitter is a common carrier, which invalidates most of your comments.

  11. Corindal,

    The big guy was a name used by James Gilliar (a British special forces soldier), not Hunter Biden.

    I have yet to find any evidence that Hunter Biden explicitly stated “I’m selling favors for money”. In fact, it’s more likely that in 2017-2018 people gave him money with the expectation his father would become president.

    The Senate Republican investigation and report which is 87 pages found nothing other than Hunter Biden cashed in on his name.

    Ukraine’s current top prosecutor said in May that he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in their dealings with Burisma and with the Ukrainian government.

  12. I have to say that regardless of the outcome of this gigantic international hand-wringing episode and all the concomitant lessons regarding free speech and private companies as they intersect with public entities, the back-and-forth here has been helpful in whacking one’s way through the hairy overgrowth and layers of misunderstanding. It all resembles and exercise in deciding the “whose oxen are being gored” question rather than the “was is permissible for Twitter to do this during the Dorsey Days and not during the Musk days?” and I don’t see a whole lot of difference.

    But boy has it killed a lot of brain cells.

    I don’t want to tolerate wrongdoing here by a giant, powerful company *or* a giant, powerful government but it looks like a lot of people are having trouble seeing the other side and saying: “Hey, that’s our side too!”

    • @Alex

      Does a news talk radio show have to put on callers that they don’t agree with? No!

      Does Fox News, or the New York Post, or the New York Times, or NBC or CBS or CNN for the Washington Post or any traditional media outlet or network or magazine have to promote or allow speech they don’t agree with? The answer is a resounding no.

      Why then should social media companies have to?

      Every newspaper and news network and television show and cable network can censor every little tiny bit of information that goes out over its digital airwaves in hard print on TV on their websites. They can do whatever they want. Why should Twitter be different?

    • Karl: You just wrote in another post that “Twitter isn’t a news organization” and now you use news organizations to support your thesis?

    • I have a modest proposal then: since for many people, including me, debating the distant past (or one year ago), is becoming difficult to do, why doesn’t Twitter establish an independent, transparent board that handles all claims of censorship or speech limitation promptly and publicly, while explaining what they did under their policy as a private company? Will that make a difference to the warring partisans? They all seem to want control.

    • I shouls also add that using this website in landscape mode on a Samsung Galaxy smartphone has become so slow but it’s impossible to perform edits in the comment window because it simply freezes for 20 seconds at a time. This Behavior seems to be recent. I don’t know what to attribute it to but I can see the data volume spike and Chrome on Android becomes like walking through wet concrete, which lasts about 30 seconds each time.

      Anyway, it’s not going to satisfy The Legal Eagles, but I’m prepared to forgive and forget the entire past if Twitter establishes a believable Board of people to cut down the noise and let people use the service rather than debating the service. I say this as a potential user, not as someone who wants to prosecute a lawsuit.

      I’m getting tired of all the crap.

  13. @Anonymous

    Entirely untrue. Fake news. A fake post. Completely made up! Twitter is not a common carrier.

    You’re referring to the 5th circuit Court ruling in netchoice versus Paxton. At issue was a Texas law that treats social media companies as common carriers. That is not the same thing. That doesn’t apply outside Texas. And it certainly not federal law.

    While the fifth circuit may have ruled that social media companies can be treated as common carriers. The 11th circuit ruled that they aren’t. I’d like to know how you go from a real road and a telephone company to Twitter. Twitter doesn’t provide communication services. Twitter provides a forum of for people’s opinions.

    Now Facebook that’s another question. Facebook is a platform where a designed primary use is for people, businesses, and government agencies routinely use it as a communications platform; and also use it as a place to sell merchandise.

    Twitter has company accounts because Twitter allows companies to have accounts and news organizations. It was designed for people to put their opinions out there. It was not designed as a merchandising communications platform that came later when they needed money.

    The question is where do you draw the line? Some social media companies may end up trading across the line and become common carriers. I personally don’t see that because they’re very clear that they own the forum and it’s free mostly. On the other hand, the telephone company absolutely owns the transmission lines etc, however, it is your account and they acknowledge you are renting space – had to becomes a public accommodation and a common carrier just like a rental car. A railroad airplanes buses.

    Currently, the only place that Twitter may possibly be treated as a common carrier is Texas.

    • On Twitter everyone is clearly posting under their own name/account, so it is like having a telephone connection. Because of the safe harbor clause you can’t sue Twitter.

      But if you are correct, we can now support Musk in censoring any Democrat he wants.

  14. @Steve

    The obvious answer is they thought it was Russian disinformation. It was a blind computer repair man who couldn’t verify who left the laptop.

    It’s still unclear how much of what was provided to the New York Post is 100% authentic. (Yes, a CBS News expert says that there was no tampering, but I can take stuff and image it and throw it on a hard drive and you can’t tell. Friends of mine have operating systems going all the way back to Windows 95 so we can create the hard drive with data that looks completely authentic 30 years back.) Some of the emails seem to be.
    The telling thing is that they show nothing. The Senate Republicans did an investigation and determined that other than cashing in on his name Hunter Biden did nothing wrong.

    Ukraine’s current top prosecutor said in May that he had seen no evidence of wrongdoing by either Biden in their dealings with Burisma and with the Ukrainian government.

    Oh by the way, there was no COVID Wuhan lab leak. HERE IS THE DEFINITIVE INVESTIGATION that proved COVID originated in the Seafood Market.

    The molecular epidemiology of multiple zoonotic origins of SARS-CoV-2

    “Within the market, the data statistically located the earliest human cases to one section where vendors of live wild animals congregated and where virus-positive environmental samples concentrated.”

    Steve, everything is not a conspiracy.

  15. @ Steve.

    I hate to break it to you, but, vaccines are effective. Vaccines reduce the amount of virus. The amount of virus in a person’s body is directly proportional to how easily it spreads. The vaccines also reduce the amount of time where virus is available to shed, the length of time. A person is contagious is also directly proportional to how fast and far it spreads.

    Masks reduce the spread of the virus. That’s an absolute fact. It’s also a fact that they may not be extremely protective. But they do reduce transmission.

    You seem to think that everything other than what you believe is a conspiracy, a government conspiracy at that.

  16. Well there is nothing illegal on it. There’s not even evidence of anything illegal going on, on it. The Senate Republicans did an investigation, they found Hunter Biden was guilty of cashing in on his name and nothing more.

    But, it doesn’t matter anyway. The New York Times, Fox News, the New York Post, with the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, CNN and every other news organization out there can bury or report any story they want. And there’s not a damn thing you or anybody can do about it.

    See there’s this little thing called the First Amendment and the Supreme Court has ruled that remaining silent is protected speech. When an organization refuses to publish a story that’s that organization exercising their First Amendment right to remain silent on that story. If Fox News can do that, if the New York Post can do that and if the New York Times can do that, why should Twitter be any different?

  17. @ philg
    How is that in any way damning?

    If you argue that there’s no First Amendment protection for people that tweet on Twitter, which there isn’t or else Kanye would still be on. And that Twitter has the right to suspend or accounts on their whim.
    How is the White House spokespersons account any different than Kanye West’s.

    The court ruled that President Trump had to have a Twitter account for official business, only. After he left office, Twitter did not have to give him an account. I guess Miss MacEnany would have to follow the same rules. Hence any use of her account for personal tweets would mean they could boot her.

  18. @ Corindal

    The New York Times does not have to be impartial or consistent. Neither does Fox News. Until the Supreme Court rules that Twitter is a common carrier, Twitter doesn’t have to either. The New York Times does not have to print or even reveal they know about a story. Twitter can suppress whatever they want.

    Even if there were government personnel telling Twitter to remove tweets, which in 2020 there were not other than President Trump, absent an actual corroborated threat from the government to somehow damage Twitter’s business suggestions are just that and Twitter could follow them however they choose.

    • @Karl disregard existing threading, so I have no idea what he was responding to when he wrote:

      Twitter can suppress whatever they want.

      It is not obvious to me that this is the correct legal result.

      Others have explained to you that Twitter’s decision to use of the safe harbor clause puts them in a different legal category from a news source. But there is a bigger issue.

      If the government is forbidden to do X to a person, then it is well established that the government can not order a private company to do X to that person. If the government works around the rule by having an out of office politician to ask a private company to do X, is that forbidden? What if members of congress threaten the company with regulation, while the FBI hints that they have secret reasons the company should do X?

      I don’t know where the line is legally, and I don’t think you know either. I am sure that people who use this sort of sophistry to deceive voters are immoral, and should not be trusted with power.

  19. @ Coridal

    It has to be reported and investigated? Really? According to what law?

    News agencies, News media, and anything else that you want to add with news (like network I guess), along with Twitter are required to print and investigate ABSOLUTELY ZERO stories.

    As a rule, news organizations investigate and print only the stories that their readership and their following are interested in reading; or else they don’t sell papers or website subscriptions.

    • @Karl, by replying out-of-thread, you made it hard for the casual reader to spot the fact that you changed the meaning of what I said.

      Original comment:
      On December 3, 2022 at 1:47 am, David said:
      When a story like this shows up 2 weeks before an election, what should be done with it?

      My reply to that comment:
      On December 3, 2022 at 8:45 pm, Corindal Lax said:
      > When a story like this shows up 2 weeks before an election, what should be done with it?

      It should be reported and investigated.

      What you claim I said:
      On December 11, 2022 at 12:47 pm, @Karl responded:
      It has to be reported and investigated? Really? According to what law?

  20. @Corindal

    Regardless of Republican and right-wing talking points to the contrary, Hunter Biden never solicited for any bribes. The Senate Republicans did an investigation which resulted in an 87 page report the huge take away, Hunter Biden cashed in on his name, nothing illegal.

    • @Karl made the following unsupported claim:

      Regardless of Republican and right-wing talking points to the contrary, Hunter Biden never solicited for any bribes.

      How do you know that? If you are saying we have no proof he did so, I would agree. We just know that various shady companies/people paid him enormous sums of money. Is your theory that these people all spontaneously decided to pay Hunter money for no reason?

      If we learned that the child of a republican did what we know Hunter did, but we had no proof he explicitly solicited a bribe, would you write “Regardless of Democrat and left-wing talking points to the contrary” before stating (as a fact) that there is no problem?

      The Senate Republicans did an investigation which resulted in an 87 page report the huge take away, Hunter Biden cashed in on his name, nothing illegal.

      Is that the standard by which we judge politicians? That other politicians can’t prove that obviously scummy behavior violated a specific law? Or is that the standard for the politicians you like?

  21. One last thought on this for tonight: maybe we should be discussing and thinking about all of this in terms of Prior Restraint as it should apply to media entities owned and run by private companies. It would be fascinating to know what Jimmy Breslin thinks about it. He died a little too late to participate in the debate – 2017.

    And should anyone go and delete his some of his most memorable and hard-hitting columns because he was half in the bag when he wrote some of them? I take it that the NY Daily News were aware when it was taking place.

    “When you stop drinking, you have to deal with this marvelous personality that started you drinking in the first place.”

    To me, in my “man on the street” personality, Twitter *is* a publishing entity. Sometimes it’s a corporate voice. Sometimes it’s a platform used by others for expression. Sometimes it’s a just a few folks talking about cars, or food, or the Holidays. The Internet exists to confound old definitions. It’s like trying to hold jell-o in one’s hand.

  22. @Karl, you are all over the map.

    Question: bet it the media or big corporation, be it your next door woke or big shot liberal politician, they all preach LoveIsLove, COVIDSafe, AllIsWelcome, et. al. and they all have some sort of buttons, posters, flags and links on their website. But you know what, almost no one, NO ONE, has anything to say about the poor quality of K-12 education this country is providing and has been providing for decades.

    Let’s run this country to the ground by raising dumb generations that surrounds itself with LoveIsLove and scare them with COVIDFear as if being dumb is not ones own doing.

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