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Twitter Updates ‘Hacked Materials’ policy after censoring NY Post’s Hunter Biden Exposé

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After intense backlash for suppressing the spread of the New York Post‘s Hunter Biden emails exposé on its platform, including a Senate subpoena, Twitter announced Thursday night that it’s changing its policy on “hacked materials.”

“Over the last 24 hours, we’ve received significant feedback (from critical to supportive) about how we enforced our Hacked Materials Policy yesterday,” tweeted Vijaya Gadde—Twitter’s lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety—in a nine-part thread. “After reflecting on this feedback, we have decided to make changes to the policy and how we enforce it.”

In her statement, Gadde listed two major changes to the policy. Firstly, Twitter “will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them.” And then secondly, the site “will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter.”

Explaining Twitter’s reasoning, Gadde said that “We believe that labeling Tweets and empowering people to assess content for themselves better serves the public interest and public conversation,” and that the “Hacked Material Policy is being updated to reflect these new enforcement capabilities.”

However, she notes, “All the other Twitter Rules will still apply to the posting of or linking to hacked materials, such as our rules against posting private information, synthetic and manipulated media, and non-consensual nudity.”

When users tried to tweet a link to the exposé or retweet someone who had already tweeted it, a notification preventing them from sharing it would pop up, saying, “The link you are trying to access has been identified by Twitter and our partners as being potentially spammy or unsafe,” and then listing potential reasons for why the link was categorized as such. (See image below)

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Twitter originally justified slowing the Wednesday exposé‘s spread because the Hunter Biden emails in question that The Post obtained had allegedly originated from the hard drive of a laptop given to a Delaware repair shop. Because of this, Twitter claimed initially that these emails fell under the umbrella of hacked materials and were unverified.

Seeing this action, many political figures, commentators, journalists, and publications eviscerated Twitter on its very own platform, accusing it of censorship and interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential election that’s days away.

Complicating matters, because the exposé alleged that former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic candidate and father of Hunter Biden, possibly engaged in corruption, conservatives especially went after the social media site. Furthermore, it was the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who have spearheaded the effort to subpoena the company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey.

Faith in the electoral process was already disastrously low, and this only compounds people’s anxiety and lack of trust. Retweeting Gadde’s thread, Dorsey wrote that the “Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix,” adding “Our goal is to attempt to add context, and now we have capabilities to do that,” he added.

Regardless, it is unlikely that these policy changes will fan the flames of this censorship scandal: Too little, too late.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Economy

Michigan asks residents to house migrants, enroll children in school and help adults find employment

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Michigan is asking its residents to help with the mess its leadership created and house migrants in their own homes. The state Department of Labor and Economic Development said volunteers who participate must commit for at least 90 days as part of the refugee support program.

In addition to opening up their homes, sponsors are expected to support newly arrived refugees by greeting them at the airport, securing and preparing initial housing, enrolling children in school and helping adults find employment.

“Programs like the Welcome Corps advance the Office of Global Michigan’s mission to make Michigan the home for opportunity for our immigrant, refugee and ethnic communities,” said Poppy Hernandez, Global Michigan Director and Michigan’s Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer. “Expanded refugee resettlement pathways empower more Michiganders to support our state’s growing refugee population and build a more welcoming and inclusive Michigan for all.”

The migrants will come from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all points of origin where many have been hoping to apply for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Fox News reports “cities like New York and Chicago have also dealt with issues related to migrants committing crimes, as well as pushback from residents who have voiced anger and concern over the influx. Migrant shelters in those cities have largely been full, forcing officials to come up with ways to safely house the migrants.”

Last year, Massachusetts officials asked residents to open their doors as migrant shelters were full at the time. “Most importantly, if you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Housing and shelter is our most pressing need and become a sponsor family,” said Massachusetts Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll.

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