Election 2020 / Government Watch / Opinion / Politics

Big Mistake – Social Media Blocking Biden Emails

biden emails social mediaA complex story is unfolding – based on discovery of a hard-drive belonging to the son of former Vice President Joe Biden.  On that hard-drive are emails that appear to confirm activities by both men – potentially criminal, at least highly untruthful.  Revealed by a newspaper, the story was suppressed by social media outlets. See, e.g., https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/10/14/election-interference-facebook-suppressing-new-york-post-bombshell-story-of-damaging-hunter-biden-emails/.

Cries of foul by Trump supporters, who can see no legal basis for suppressing evidence of untruthfulness and potential criminality before an election have triggered an avalanche of pre-election activity.

First, the outcry to republish the facts continues. That outcry was met by counter-cries that emails could be true-but-hacked.  The counter-counter-cry is that the source is known and honest, no evidence of hacking exists, and if even hacked, facts matter.  The information is of enormous “public concern.”  See, e.g., https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2020/10/yes-the-hunter-biden-emails-are-authentic-by-larry-c-johnson.html; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hunter-biden-emails-senate-homeland-security-committee-investigating-hard-drive-laptop.

Second, potential misuse of power and political bias by social media companies has inflamed the US Senate.  Pre-election hearings are planned, letters to the FBI multiplying.  Likely to focus on antitrust regulation and civil liability, they will delve into information suppression. See, e.g.,  https://apnews.com/article/election-2020-donald-trump-amazoncom-inc-media-misinformation-831341e1d56e48b5100375a2fd9d27b6; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/senate-republicans-call-on-twitter-facebook-bosses-to-testify-amid-censorship-claims-say-subpoena-in-the-works; and  www.dailywire.com/news/numerous-lawmakers-send-letter-to-fbi-director-demanding-answers-about-hunter-biden-laptop.

The backdrop for these hearings is a report – dating back months – calling for regulation of social media giants and ending liability exemptions in section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act.  The latest incident is salt in the wound, raising the stakes for social media outlets, suggesting a need for accountability. See, e.g., https://www.nationalreview.com/news/senate-republicans-take-aim-at-liability-protections-for-social-media-companies-ahead-of-november-election/.

Third, in concert with new civil liability – for libel, tort, contract, election law violations – the Republican National Committee is suing at least one social media outlet for “in-kind” political donations to Biden, via suppression of the incriminating emails. See, e.g., https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/tyler-o-neil/2020/10/16/rnc-files-fec-complaint-twitter-gave-in-kind-contribution-to-biden-campaign-n1064081.

Fourth, new evidence is emerging – suggesting the FBI may have had access to the incriminating hard-drive and emails in late 2019, as the impeachment process was unfolding.  If incriminating emails were available, the source known, and they offered exculpatory material – which would have assisted in the President’s defense – the question is, why were they not made available at the time?  See, e.g., https://www.foxnews.com/politics/house-gop-fbi-hunter-biden-laptop; and https://www.foxnews.com/politics/hunter-biden-emails-giuliani-attorney-fbi.  At hearings – perhaps in other contexts – the FBI Director will have to answer.

Fifth, a wider question hangs over this entire discussion – like a giant umbrella.  What role should increasingly powerful social media platforms play in the future.  Should they be regulated, subject to civil lawsuits, antitrust law, broken up, held to a higher standard of care than at present?

Does exercising editorial control and manipulating third-party content change their legal status and obligations to the public?  Should they remain exempt from civil liability as “interactive computer service” organizations – a provision intended to nurture a onetime fledgling industry – or have they outgrown that protection?

If they can selectively suppress information on matters of public concern, potentially influencing a presidential election by content control, what implications does that have?  Where do they fit, if at all, into public forum law? See, e.g., https://mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/824/public-forum-doctrine.  They are not government, but their power is considerable, verging on monopoly or oligopoly.

Finally, in some ways, all these questions vector to a simpler question.  What is social media?  Is it more like television or telephone, newspaper editor or delivery boy, email domain or public bulletin board?

Has social media become so powerful that – in effect – it is a “public forum,” and must be managed that way, even though not formally part of the government?  Is it like a public park – or use of private space for public speaking – and if so, what kinds of restrictions are reasonable?  If it must block criminal activity, can it also block political opinions with which private owners disagree?  Is that reasonable?

Unfortunately, just as we enter the swift current of an enormously important national election, these questions have popped again.  They are legal, but also political – and not likely to be resolved before the election.

In time, the Biden story will be known, Senate hearings held, Section 230 scrutinized, election violations decided, antitrust regulation and civil liability reconsidered, FBI behavior reexamined, and social media put under bright lights.

What all this activity reminds us is that – like it or not – we live in a complex world, characterized by fast, concentrated, unaccountable, increasingly manipulable communications technology – on which we all depend.

Implications are social, professional, legal, and political.  They raise profound questions of trust – in modern technology and who controls it, the integrity of our institutions and democratic process, as well as how we relate to each other.

In time we will sort these questions out.  But presently, evaluating the Biden email revelations and what they mean – we are at a disadvantage.  The law is unsettled, complex and needs to be resolved – but the election is just days away.

While the First Amendment is sacrosanct, manipulation of highly sensitive content – credible news that can affect an election – by powerful, unregulated, legally sheltered “interactive computer services” should be forbidden.  Time is short.  Facts matter. The full story should be out – and social media should help get it out.

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1 month ago

I am more concerned about why the FBI had the laptop for several months and have said nothing about it. If our top law enforcement division is fooling the American people and interfering with an election – as their previously did with with the Russian information, then we are no different from China‼️? I am thankful that the shop owner made a copy of the hard drive or this may have never seen the light of day

Josephine pooley
1 month ago

This istroubling and all the more reason to re-elect our President because under a Biden/Harris administrsaion these investigations will be squelched and we will never know the truth!

Linda K
1 month ago

It’s getting scary and it seems a lot of people don’t know how bad it will be if the dems get elected.

1 month ago

Censorship brings back the actions of the USSR, China, Cuba, Venezuela, the former Eastern Bloc of Communist Europe. It doesn’t characterize U.S. society as a whole, except perhaps in time of war. Theoretically, we are not in time of war, except in words. The Obama administration expanded censorship through the NSA, FBI, CIA, the Department of State. Facebook and Twitter followed suit to promote their narrative. We need to re-evaluate where we are as a freedom loving society, and promote reasonable freedom of speech as stated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

RJ from Arizona
1 month ago

Very disturbing and disgusting. Proves how rotten the media really is.

Lawrence Greenberg
1 month ago

It’s not a “big mistake” for Joe Biden. If the truth about his 40+ years of corruption, criminality, and yes, treason, ever gets out to the public, both he and his entire family will spend the remainder of their lives behind bars. And never mind about him ever getting to The White House.

1 month ago

Great article which outlines exactly the socialist nature of the far left, democrats and biden/harris destruction of American freedom.
Control the media, education and social platforms, abolish religious freedom, opposing voices,remove 2nd amendment rights and re-distribute wealth. They would create a large government run socialist society.
These criminal,communist,anti freedom haters MUST be defeated, President Trump is America’s chance.
Please take up the cause for freedom!

Patriot Will
1 month ago

This is still the USA. However, too many Americans are so apathetic and ignorant that they just shrug their shoulders when they find out that the media is misleading them. Without a free press, the constant propaganda bombarding our minds is numbing many of us from feeling outrage at the leaders of the socialists and communists within the Democratic Party. Hopefully, all true patriots will vote for President Trump. It’s finally time for phony Joe to leave politics forever. Even if he never goes to jail, conman Joe must go. He is ethically, emotionally, intellectually, and physically unfit to lead… Read more »

Deborah Wolff
1 month ago

FBI had this info for over a year Chis Wrey needs to be arrested for holding back info

General Patton
1 month ago

Stop the hypocrisy Twitter and Facebook. Time to prosecute the corrupt and perverted Biden Crime Family, and clean out the SWAMP in DC

Deploreable Sam
1 month ago

Not just social media, but ALL media, as in MAINSTREAM media need to be exposed to a very critical review of process. As anyone with the remotest powers of observation can see, the bias of today’s so called press, for the most part, is totally without integrity when “reporting ” on anything that goes outside their narrative. In short, they do NOT report news, but merely express an opinion they think we want or need. I, for one, already have an opinion and do not need or want theirs. Might be why our President spends so much time on twitter.… Read more »

Veronica Storey
1 month ago

A cover-up I am sure. Look at them, they have found a way out. They are guilty as SIN!!!! Lock them up and throw away the key! Strange how the FBI got involved. Have the Profilers come in and profile them. You would really learn quiet a bit from them.

Allan Brem
1 month ago

We have to end this corruption.

John A. Fallon
1 month ago

Not only hi-tech companies but news companies like foxnews block comments that disagree with socialist/dem doctrine, it is getting worse all the time, free speach is free only if you HATE AMERICA! R.E.D., KAF, KAG, VOTE TRUMP AND VOTE FOR REPUBLICANS THAT WILL HELP OUR PRESIDENT CONTINUE HIS GREAT WORK FOR “WE THE PEOPLE”!!

1 month ago

I am not a lawyer, but can’t that be considered accesories after the fact??!

Martha Clark, RN
1 month ago

Excellent essay about our current cultural and political state. Unbelievable that this is legal. Pray that we get some sort of legislation ending suppression of American’s voices!

Todd Stear
1 month ago

Why aren’t there any “share buttons” for twitter, Parler, etc?

1 month ago

Hmm, maybe this is part of the setup to remove Biden should he win the election. If Pelosi can’t remove him using the 25th amendment then she can impeach him.

Joseph Michael Loglisci
1 month ago

And yet, more illegality by the EVIL dumbokraut baskets! Of course, if anything comes of this, I may have a heart attack before I live long enough to enjoy seeing it!

Last edited 1 month ago by Joseph Michael Loglisci
Stephen Russell
1 month ago

Join the Data Dividend Project.org to end Tech tyranny
Or get your $$$ due from Tech.
Big Tech blocking information on virus & now elections
End this
Join Telegram & or Parler.

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