Pol­icy curb­ing hacked data soft­ened af­ter Bi­den son row

The Guardian - - World - Alex Hern Tech­nol­ogy ed­i­tor

Twit­ter has soft­ened its poli­cies against the shar­ing of hacked ma­te­rial af­ter its de­ci­sion to block a New York Post story about Joe Bi­den’s son prompted anger.

Repub­li­can se­na­tors de­clared their in­ten­tion to sub­poena the Twit­ter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, next week, forc­ing him to ex­plain the de­ci­sion, af­ter he apol­o­gised for the lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the block­ing.

The story, sup­pos­edly based on ma­te­ri­als stolen from Hunter Bi­den’s lap­top by a com­puter re­pair shop, was blocked by Twit­ter on two grounds, the com­pany said. First, it con­tained per­sonal in­for­ma­tion such as pri­vate email ad­dresses; and sec­ond, it con­tained hacked ma­te­rial, vi­o­lat­ing a pol­icy in­sti­tuted in 2018 to try to limit “hack-and-leak” op­er­a­tions of the sort run by the Rus­sian state in 2016.

Changes would be made to the lat­ter pol­icy, Twit­ter’s le­gal, pol­icy and safety chief, Vi­jaya Gadde, said late on Thurs­day. “We will no longer re­move hacked con­tent un­less it is di­rectly shared by hack­ers or those act­ing in con­cert with them,” Gadde tweeted. “We will la­bel tweets to pro­vide con­text in­stead of block­ing links from be­ing shared on Twit­ter.”

The pol­icy against hacked ma­te­ri­als had led to con­cern, be­yond Repub­li­can politi­cians and ac­tivists, that Twit­ter could pe­nalise re­port­ing re­lated to hacks, lim­it­ing le­git­i­mate jour­nal­ism, 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.”

The ac­count of Don­ald Trump’s re­elec­tion cam­paign was also briefly re­stricted on Thurs­day, caus­ing an out­cry from Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors who ac­cused so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies of act­ing like “speech po­lice”.

Twit­ter tem­po­rar­ily blocked the @TeamTrump ac­count from send­ing tweets af­ter it posted a video re­fer­ring to the Post story.

▲ Twit­ter had blocked the New York Post ar­ti­cle about Hunter Bi­den

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