It is well known that Twitter makes a sport of censorship. There’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to the topic.
Typical of previous years, the 2022 log of Twitter suspensions is mostly a list of conservative commentators and Republican politicians — though refreshingly, a deranged Middle East dictator, one Ali Khamenei of Iran also made the cut this year.
Sharing “Covid-19 misinformation” (or at least what is presently considered such) is one of the more likely sins to get you banned in 2022, as is — gasp — calling male swimmers “men”.
What Twitter deems a transgression changes slightly from year to year but the themes and the political partisanship is consistent.
In 2020, what really put a bee in Twitter’s bonnet was sharing factual stories that threatened Joe Biden’s entry into the White House. Yes, Twitter interfered in the 2020 election. Egregiously.
The New York Times’s recent, glaring admission that Hunter Biden’s laptop is authentic, though 18 months late, has brought this fact to the fore once again.
We are yet to fully come to terms with Twitter’s misdeeds in those closing weeks of the 2020 contest, and the precedent they have set for public discourse in the West.
But first some background, if you are unfamiliar with what happened.
With all of America on seat’s edge and the world tuned in to the Trump-Biden contest, the New York Post broke a bombshell report on October 14, 2020.
Through intriguing circumstances, a laptop belonging to Joe’s son Hunter had made its way to the Post. On that hard drive were emails indicating that when the senior Biden was Vice President, he massaged US foreign policy in Ukraine to the benefit of his son’s business ventures there.
The evidence strongly suggested that the millions in profit flowing to the Biden family estate from Ukraine, China and Russia were only made possible by the exclusive White House access it granted Hunter’s contacts in those countries.
Additionally, the laptop harboured a trove of debauched images and videos revealing Hunter’s prostitute- and drug-fuelled lifestyle — factors that made the Biden family more vulnerable to blackmail and other clandestine political influence.
So much for the story — what of the censorship?
Infamously, Twitter immediately locked two accounts: the New York Post’s, and that of Trump’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who had tweeted out the report. Anyone else who tried to share the story were either suspended or unable to tweet the link, myself included. As Brendan O’Neill of Spiked has described that “truly extraordinary moment“:
Here we had the spokesperson for the democratically elected president of the United States and the oldest continuously published daily newspaper in America being cast out of social media for the crime of sharing a story that was true.
Not only was the story true — revelations of endemic Biden family corruption would doubtless have swung many undecided voters back to Trump in those dying days of the 2020 race, had they had access to it. This is a hypothesis made even more likely by poll after poll unearthing post-election Biden voter regret.
Twitter was the most flagrant partisan operative in the Hunter laptop saga, but far from the only one.
Facebook limited sharing of the New York Post’s piece until its “fact checkers” had a chance to assess the report. They never did. And they never apologised. In the years previous, however, Facebook did give free rein to flat-out lies about a Trump “pee-pee” tape and his being a Russian asset.
The conspiracy of the corporate press was one of silence. Had the same revelations emerged about Donald Trump Jr, there is no question the media would have reigned fire and brimstone on the Trump family.
But even a generous bribe wouldn’t have tempted most media outlets to report accurately on Hunter’s toxic laptop with a presidential election just around the corner. “The media world has largely ignored the Post’s Hunter Biden story,” one CNN reporter bragged at the time. “We don’t waste our time on stories that are not really stories,” taxpayer-funded NPR likewise scoffed.
Then came 50 former intelligence officials to denounce Hunter’s laptop as a Russian plant, part of a disinformation campaign to get Trump re-elected. They didn’t have any evidence for this, they admitted, just the feels. Now the media had its angle, one they amplified endlessly until Biden’s victory was secured.
With Hunter’s laptop now authenticated, the New York Post recently chased down every one of those 50 intelligence figures for a retraction. Most didn’t respond. A few couldn’t be reached. Several dug their heals in. Not one walked back their perfidious story. “Intelligence”?
Now, with the Russia-Ukraine war in full swing, even more Biden family misdeeds are coming to light. The Daily Mail reported just this week that, per emails on his laptop, Hunter helped secure millions in funding for a US contractor specialising in deadly pathogen research in Ukraine biolabs. The same company has also partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, now acknowledged as the most likely source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
What else don’t we know about the Bidens? What else are we about to find out?
Most importantly, what is the future of political discourse in the West? Our democracies are rendered hollow if elites in Silicon Valley and on America’s coasts decide before an election what information can and cannot be seen by the public.
There has never been a more pressing need for regulation that will rein in Big Tech’s political partisanship and election interference. And never have everyday people needed more discernment as they assess the news stories put before them.