Tech

Former Twitter Execs Regret Hunter Biden Laptop Censorship Under ‘Hacked Materials’ Policy

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

James Lynch Reporter
Font Size:

Former Twitter executives Vijaya Gadde and Yoel Roth expressed regret about censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story at a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday.

Twitter initially prevented users from sharing the primary source documents showing the contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop when the New York Post published its report Oct. 14 2020. The company based its decision on its “hacked materials” policy, which was designed to prevent the distribution of contents obtained through hacking.

“[O]ver the course of that day, it became clear that Twitter had not fully appreciated the potential impact of the policy on the free press and others,” Gadde, the former Chief Legal Officer at Twitter, testified. “Twitter changed its policy within 24 hours and admitted its initial action was wrong. This policy revision immediately allowed people to tweet the original articles with the embedded source material,” she went on to say.

Gadde explained that the company developed the policy to prevent the platform “from becoming a dumping ground for hacked materials” and “applied” it to the New York Post’s story from 2020. “[T]he New York Post tweeted articles about Hunter Biden’s laptop with embedded images that looked like they may have been obtained through hacking,” she testified.

“In 2018, we had developed a policy intended to prevent Twitter from becoming a dumping ground for hacked materials. We applied this policy to the New York Post’s Tweets and blocked links to articles embedding the source materials,” she said. (RELATED: Hunter Biden Admits Laptop Data Is Real After White House, Media Insisted For Months That It Wasn’t)

Gadde also said Twitter was wrong to keep the New York Post’s Twitter account suspended for two weeks when the Post would not delete its initial tweets with its Hunter Biden reporting. “In hindsight, Twitter should have reinstated the New York Post’s account immediately given the circumstances,” she said.

Roth, former Twitter Head of Trust and Safety, said to colleagues on Oct. 14 the laptop “isn’t clearly violative of our Hacked Materials Policy, nor is it clearly in violation of anything else,” journalist Michael Shellenberger reported as part of the “Twitter Files” series.

Roth also testified Wednesday in front of the House Oversight Committee. He said “in that moment, with limited information, Twitter made a mistake” by preventing The New York Post’s reporting from being shared. “I’ve been clear that, in my judgment at the time, Twitter should not have taken action to block the New York Post’s reporting,” Roth stated.

Twitter did not follow Roth’s recommendation against censoring the New York Post’s articles under the hacked materials policy, he said. “Twitter decided to follow a strict interpretation of the policy, and removed the New York Post’s Tweets. Just 24 hours after doing so, the company acknowledged its error15, and ultimately changed its policies as a result,” Roth continued, echoing Gadde.

The contents of Biden’s laptop were verified two weeks later by the Daily Caller News Foundation and other news outlets have since verified them. Hunter Biden’s legal team admitted the laptop data was real in a letter to the Justice Department on Feb. 1.