Suppressing several stories critical of Democrat candidate Joe Biden amounted to election interference and an illegal political contribution, the Republican National Committee said in a complaint to the election watchdog FEC.
The party filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, accusing Twitter of illegally interfering with the 2020 US presidential election through its muscular censorship of a handful of articles that appeared to expose Biden’s son Hunter’s dodgy business dealings with Ukrainian and Chinese entities.
Twitter’s unprecedented blackout, which blocked all sharing of links to the stories and even locked the accounts of certain high-profile individuals who posted related information, constituted an “illegal corporate in-kind political contribution” to Biden’s presidential campaign, the RNC declared in its complaint, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News. Twitter, the party declared, had violated the Federal Election Campaign Act with its blackout on the Biden exposé.
Calling the microblogging platform “a partisan actor, run by partisan Democrats,” the RNC accused Twitter of “using its corporate resources to provide active support for Joe Biden’s campaign in violation of federal law.” The Republicans demanded the FEC “conduct an immediate investigation” into Twitter’s partisan malfeasance and “impose the maximum penalty allowed under the law.”
The complaint noted that Twitter had locked or even suspended accounts of senior government officials such as White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the official Trump campaign account @TeamTrump, and even Politico reporter Jake Sherman before “independent fact checkers had even weighed in on the accuracy of the story,” observing that “Democrat media consultants can only dream of such abilities” and would pay through the nose for them if given the opportunity.
Twitter’s blanket suppression of the stories thus constituted “illegal, corporate in-kind contributions” to the Biden campaign, the RNC argued. Pointing to Twitter’s ongoing “feud” with Trump and referencing “frequent efforts to censor the President’s tweets” alongside “‘shadow banning’ of prominent Republicans,” the party claimed that 98.7 percent of the company’s political donations had gone to Democrats.
The RNC also highlighted “a revolving door between the Biden campaign and the company,” mentioning two Twitter executives who had jumped from the Biden-Harris team to the social network and back.
The complaint highlighted Twitter’s shifting explanations for its suppression of the Biden stories, which appeared to cast doubt on the former vice president’s claims that he had no knowledge of his son Hunter’s dealings with Ukrainian energy firm Burisma Holdings. The stories cited emails supposedly retrieved from the younger Biden’s laptop, indicating the candidate had in fact met with a high-ranking Burisma executive at his son’s behest less than a year before allegedly pressuring Kiev to fire a prosecutor investigating Burisma.
While Twitter had initially claimed sharing the articles was “potentially harmful” or violated a never-before-invoked rule on sharing “hacked material,” the platform later changed tactics, suggesting the stories instead “violated its policies on displaying private information” in a message displayed to the @TeamTrump account when it was locked. However, as the RNC pointed out, Twitter had displayed no such respect for private information when the New York Times published what it claimed were the president’s income tax returns.
Twitter wasn’t the only platform to take upon itself the burden of shutting down all access to the Biden ‘October Surprise’ stories. Facebook executive Andy Stone – himself a former Democratic Party staffer – admitted on Wednesday to restricting the story’s spread until the platform’s hyper-partisan fact-checkers could tear it to pieces, and some YouTube users complained their videos detailing the stories’ allegations had been removed as well.
Later on Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey appeared to apologize over the platform’s Orwellian response to the Post stories and announced a revised policy on dealing with “hacked” materials. Hacked content would not be removed unless it was shared directly by the hackers or individuals working “in concert” with them, the platform announced later in the day.
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