Facebook, Twitter Prevents New York Post Story About Joe Biden From Going Viral
Social media companies received strong criticism for allowing misinformation to run wild on their platforms in the run-up to the presidential election back in 2016. The companies have now adopted stronger policies to restrict the spread of misinformation on the platforms.
Created to stem the spread of misinformation, Facebook and Twitter deployed those policies on Wednesday against the New York Post for the first time. This move comes in a bid to restrict a sensational political story from doing the rounds on their platforms and eventually going viral.
The social media giants took action, limiting the aforesaid reporting's distribution comprising unconfirmed claims about former vice president Joe Biden. President Trump's campaign and allies have accused the companies of suppressing the report, but both companies have attributed their move to restricting the spread of potentially incorrect information.
The companies explained how they reached their decision, which led to criticism about being unclear and inconsistent when it comes to applying their rules. The New York Post published multiple stories on Wednesday, referring to emails sent by Biden's son Hunter,
The news outlet claims it acquired those emails from Trump's private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and the president's former adviser Steve Bannon. While Facebook restricted the main story's distribution, its outside fact-checkers weighed up the claims, spokesman Andy Stone said.
In other words, the platform's algorithms will avoid placing posts linking to the report as highly in user's news feeds, bringing the number of people who see it considerably down. Despite the move, the story has been liked and shared, with people commenting on it nearly 600,000 times on Facebook, according to data from a research tool owned by the social network, CrowdTangle.
Stone went on to explain that Facebook sometimes takes this step if it feels something potentially false is trending, giving fact-checkers much-needed time to review the story before it goes viral. He did not divulge details about the signs Facebook considers or how often it adopts this approach.
Going even further, Twitter is restricting users from posting pictures of the emails, or share links to two of the New York Post's reports about them, spokesman Trenton Kennedy said. Kennedy cited the platform's rules against sharing content that has been obtained through hacking that contains personal information.
Users trying to share those links on Twitter receive a message saying their request can't be completed because the link they are trying to share has been identified by Twitter or its partners as being potentially harmful. Twitteratis, who click on already posted links, is taken to a warning screen that says, "this link may be unsafe."