Twitter briefly restricts Trump campaign account, Republicans decry company's actions

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  • Donald Trump's re-election campaign's Twitter account was suspended.
  • Republicans were outraged, demanding that the company be held responsible.
  • Social media giants are acting against what they deem to be fake news.


US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign's Twitter account was briefly restricted on Thursday, causing an outcry from Republican lawmakers who accused social media companies of acting like "speech police" and vowing to hold Twitter responsible.

Twitter temporarily blocked the @TeamTrump account from sending tweets after it posted a video about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son that it said violated its rules.

READ | Combative Donald Trump insists pandemic almost over, Joe Biden says he did 'nothing'

The video referred to a New York Post story from Wednesday that contained alleged details of Hunter Biden's business dealings with a Ukrainian energy company and said the former vice president had met with an adviser of the company.

Biden campaign spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement that Republican-led Senate committees have previously concluded that Joe Biden engaged in no wrongdoing related to Ukraine. He also denied such a meeting had taken place.

A Twitter spokesperson said earlier on Thursday that the @TeamTrump account, and the accounts of White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the New York Post, had been blocked from tweeting because of the company's policies on hacked materials and posting private information. He said the accounts may need to delete the rule-breaking posts to continue tweeting.

READ | Republicans to subpoena Twitter CEO over blocking article attacking Biden

'Private personal information'

Twitter policy chief Vijaya Gadde said late on Thursday the company has decided to make changes to its hacked materials policy following feedback on its enforcement earlier.

"We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them," Gadde said in a tweet. "We will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter."

US ELECTIONS 2020 | Follow the Donald Trump vs Joe Biden news

Twitter also said that despite the new policy the New York Post story would still be blocked. A company spokesperson said the stories would still be blocked for "violating the rules on private personal information".

The Trump campaign, with 2.2 million followers, was sending tweets again on Thursday afternoon. It said in a new tweet it was "re-posting the video Twitter doesn't want you to watch".

A Twitter spokesperson told Reuters that the site would not take action as alterations to the video meant it no longer violated its policies.

"It's going to all end up in a big lawsuit and there are things that can happen that are very severe that I'd rather not see happen, but it's probably going to have to," Trump said when asked about the move by Twitter.

McEnany likewise began tweeting again on Thursday, saying she regained access after deleting her post on the report.

Both Facebook and Twitter took proactive steps on Wednesday to restrict dissemination of the Post story in the hours after it was published.

Facebook reduced how often the story shows up in users' news feeds and elsewhere on the platform, an action spokesperson Andy Stone said the company takes temporarily pending fact checker review "if we have signals that a piece of content is false."

Jack Dorsey responds

Facebook did not respond to Reuters questions on whether its fact-checking partners were working on rating the Post's story.

Twitter prohibited its users from posting links to two New York Post articles about Hunter Biden, saying they violated its policies against posting private information and "hacked materials".

But Twitter's Chief Executive Jack Dorsey tweeted on Wednesday "our communication around our actions on the @nypost article was not great. And blocking URL sharing via tweet or DM with zero context as to why we're blocking: unacceptable."

A Twitter spokesperson declined to answer Reuters questions on whether Dorsey had been involved in the decisions on these restrictions on Wednesday or Thursday.

Republicans on the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee responded to Twitter's actions by tweeting a link to a copy of the New York Post's story on its website. Twitter blocked the link but later said this had been in error and reversed the action.

The @nypost has not tweeted in over a day, suggesting that they are still blocked from posting.

A spokesperson for the New York Post declined to comment, other than referring Reuters to the Post's own coverage.

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