Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley attacked Facebook on Wednesday for “actively censoring” a New York Post (NYP) report alleging Hunter Biden and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden met with a top executive of the Ukrainian gas company Burisma in 2015.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone announced Wednesday that Facebook was reducing the article’s reach on the platform even before it had been reviewed by third-party fact checkers. Stone then tweeted a link to a Facebook policy explainer, writing, “This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review.”
Hawley, who has been an outspoken critic of alleged instances of anti-conservative bias on Facebook and other social media platforms, issued a statement demanding to know what evidence Facebook had that the article was “disinformation.”
.@Facebook I want to know on what grounds you are actively censoring a news report about potentially illegal corruption by the Democrat candidate for president. If you have evidence this is “disinformation,” disclose it immediately. Expect a formal inquiry from my office
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 14, 2020
Hawley issued a formal letter to Facebook reiterating his demands, which his office provided exclusively to the Daily Caller. In the letter, Hawley asks Facebook to explain its policies on censoring and fact checking articles and reveal whether members or representatives of Biden’s presidential campaign asked Facebook to take action on the article.
Stone, a former employee of two Democratic members of Congress and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), announced Facebook’s response on Twitter.
While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
Facebook did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for an explanation of its decision, according to NYP.
The NYP article details a copy of an email allegedly showing both Hunter and Joe Biden met with a Burisma representative in 2015, among other things, which would appear to contradict Biden’s earlier assertion that he “had never spoken to [his] son about his overseas business dealings.” (RELATED: Biden Says He Never Discussed Hunter Biden’s Ukraine Deal. Hunter Says He Did)
The email in question allegedly shows a communication from Burisma executive Vadym Pozharsky to Hunter Biden. “Dear Hunter, thank you for inviting me to DC and giving an opportunity to meet your father and spent some time together,” Pozharskyi allegedly wrote to Hunter Biden in the April 2015 email. “It’s really an honor and pleasure.”
The Daily Caller has not independently confirmed the authenticity of the email.
The email reportedly comes from the a laptop dropped off at an unidentified computer repair shop in Delaware. The computer’s hard drive allegedly contains lewd images and video of Hunter, as well as the email. The computer’s owner never returned to pick up the device after dropping it off, according to the NYP. The store owner later made a copy of the hard drive and reported the device to the FBI, which took custody of it, per the same report.
The store owner then shared the hard drive copy with the lawyer for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to the NYP.