SAN FRANCISCO – It is the 11th hour before the presidential elections. But Facebook and Twitter are still changing their minds.
With just a few weeks to go until the November 3rd vote, social media companies are continuing to change their policies, in some cases completely reversing what they allow and disallow on their websites. On Friday, Twitter underscored how fluid its guidelines were when it began allowing users to share links to one Unfounded New York Post article about Hunter Biden that it had previously been banned from its service.
The change came 180 degrees from Wednesday when Twitter blocked the links to the article because the emails it was based on may have been hacked and contained private information, both of which were against its guidelines. (Many questions remain unanswered about how the New York Post received the emails.)
Late Thursday, under pressure from Republicans who said Twitter was censoring them Company began to trace back by revising one of its guidelines. The U-turn was completed Friday with the ban on the history of the New York Post being lifted altogether as the article spread widely online.
Twitter’s flip-flop followed a series of changes from Facebook that were announced in the past few weeks Prohibition of denial of the Holocaustforbid more QAnon conspiracy sites and groups, Prohibition of anti-vaccination ads and suspend political advertising for an unspecified period after the election. All of these things had been allowed before – until they weren’t.
The rapid changes have made Twitter and Facebook pranksters and fueled efforts to regulate them. On Friday, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley said he wanted to Summons Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s executive director to testify about the “censorship” of the New York Post article. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Twitter was “against us”. And President Trump shared a satirical article on Twitter, mocking the company’s policies.
“Guidelines are a guide to action, but the platforms don’t endorse their guidelines,” said Joan Donovan, research director for the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Order at Harvard’s Kennedy School. “They only respond to public pressure and will therefore be prone to political influence for some time.”
A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that the company would allow the link to be shared because the information had spread so widely over the Internet that it could no longer be considered private. He declined to comment further.
“Major events in the world have caused us to change some of our policies but not our principles,” said Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman.
This is a developing story. Check for updates again.