The Twitter account for US President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign was briefly restricted on Thursday, raising protests from Republican lawmakers accusing social media companies of acting like “speech police” and taking responsibility for Twitter.
Twitter temporarily blocked the @TeamTrump account from sending tweets after posting a video about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s son, and after Twitter revealing that they broke the rules.
The video referred to an article in the New York Post on Wednesday about Hunter Biden’s dealings with a Ukrainian energy company, and said the former vice president had met with the company’s advisor.
Biden Campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement that the Republican-led Senate Committee had previously concluded that Joe Biden had not committed any wrongdoing with Ukraine. He also denied that such meetings were held.
A Twitter spokesman said earlier Thursday that the tweets were blocked due to the company’s policy on posting hacked material and personal information on the @TeamTrump account and accounts at White House reporter Kayleigh McEnany and New York Post. He said the account may have to delete the offending posts to continue tweeting.
The Trump campaign with 2.2 million followers was tweeting again on Thursday afternoon. In a new tweet, “Twitter reposts videos you don’t want to see.” ㅏ
A Twitter spokesman said Reuters would not take action if the site changes the video because it will no longer violate its policy.
“It’s all going to end up in big lawsuits, and very serious things can happen than I see,” Trump said, “but you probably should. Go to Twitter.
McEnany also launched Twitter again on Thursday and said he could access it again after deleting his post from the report.
Both Facebook and Twitter took proactive steps on Wednesday to limit the propagation of post articles within hours of being posted.
Facebook has reduced the frequency of articles appearing in users’ news feeds and elsewhere on the platform, spokesman Andy Stone said the company is temporarily suspending the fact-checker review “if there is a signal that some of the content is false.”
Facebook hasn’t responded to Reuters’ questions about whether fact-checking partners are working on rating articles in the post.
Twitter has banned users from posting links to two New York Post articles about Hunter Biden, and said it violated its policy on posting privacy and “hacked material”.
However, Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey said on Wednesday, “Our communication about our actions on the @nypost article wasn’t good. And we’ve tweeted that there’s no context as to why we’re blocking it, or blocking URL sharing via direct mail: it’s unacceptable.”
A Twitter spokesman declined to answer Reuters’ questions about whether Dorsey was involved in the decision on these restrictions on Wednesday or Thursday.
A Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee responded to Twitter’s action by tweeting a link to a copy of the New York Post article on the Twitter website. Twitter blocked the link, but later said this was an error and canceled the action.
@nypost hasn’t tweeted for more than a day and it still suggests that the posting was blocked
A spokesman for the New York Post declined to comment on Reuters except to refer to the post itself.
Republican lawmakers hit social media company action on Thursday. US Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the blocking of the story was “condemned” and that there should be no “voice police” in the United States.
After Twitter imposed restrictions, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee moved Dorsey to a subpoena.
Committee chairman Lindsey Graham and Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley said the committee will vote on sending a subpoena on Tuesday, October 20th, and Dorsey plans to attend the committee by October 23rd.
Hawley also asked Facebook to send a subpoena.
“Finally, you’ll have an out-of-date accounting,” Graham said. “This materializes the problem better than anything I can think of.”
Senator Marco Rubio urged Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to review section 230 of the Communications Dignity Act.
Google CEOs of Twitter, Facebook, and Alphabet Inc will be present at the Senate Committee later this month to discuss the legal waiver clause 230 that protects technology companies from liability for content posted by users and makes it possible. Act in “good faith” to remove offensive content.
Pai said on Thursday that the agency will move forward to set new rules to clarify the meaning of the provisions.
While demands to reform section 230 and punish technology companies are intensifying, it is unlikely that Congress will take action against the law this year.