Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg demanding to know why the social media giant throttled a New York Post article that alleged Hunter Biden “facilitated” a meeting between a Ukrainian gas company and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Facebook decided to reduce the distribution of a New York Post article saying that, contrary to Biden’s claims, Biden allegedly met with an executive at Burisma when he was vice president. Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, reportedly arranged the meeting while he was working as a lobbyist for the company.
Fox News reported that the Senate Homeland Security Committee is investigating the claim.
Andy Stone, who works for communications at Facebook and is a former Democrat staffer, said that the social media platform would reduce the story’s distribution until Facebook’s fact-checkers can verify the report.
While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook's third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
Hawley slammed Facebook’s decision to quash the virality of the Post story. Hawley wrote in his letter to Zuckerberg:
The seemingly selective nature of this public intervention suggests partiality on the part of Facebook. And your efforts to suppress the distribution of content revealing potentially unethical activity by a candidate for president raises several additional questions, to which I expect responses immediately.
Hawley also demanded to know several questions regarding Facebook’s decision to censor the story, including:
- Is it your normal policy to reduce the distribution of stories on your platform before they have been fact-checked? If so, what is your specific policy and where is such policy stated?
- If you have evidence that this news story contains “disinformation” or have otherwise determined that there are inaccuracies with the reporting, will you disclose them to the public so that they can assess your findings?
- Why did you endeavor to publicly state that such a story was subject to a fact-check? Isn’t such a public intervention itself a reflection of Facebook’s assessment of a news report’s credibility?
- Did any member of the Biden-Harris presidential campaign team or any person representing themselves as a representative of the campaign’s interests ask, encourage, or direct Facebook to suppress the New York Post story?
- The New York Post previously reported that employees of the six largest Silicon Valley tech firms – including Facebook – have donated nearly $5 million to the Biden-Harris campaign, compared to just $239,000 to President Trump’s campaign. What steps has Facebook taken to ensure that your employees’ political preferences don’t influence decisions to suppress content?
Hawley asked rhetorically on Wednesday, “Did Biden campaign ask you to do so?”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 14, 2020
Sean Moran is a congressional reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.