In October 2020, just weeks before the election, Twitter froze the account of the New York Post and others to try to censor and block the spread of stories about Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop and information thereon that were damaging to the electoral prospects of then-candidate Joe Biden.
Now, more than two years later, the former head of Twitter’s Orwellian “Trust and Safety” team, Yoel Roth, has finally admitted that it was a “mistake” for the platform to so aggressively censor the Hunter Biden laptop stories, Fox News reported.
Roth, who left Twitter in protest shortly after tech billionaire Elon Musk took over, belatedly acknowledged the grievous error in a conversation with tech journalist Kara Swisher, though he did try to sidestep the ultimate responsibility for that decision.
Censorship of Post’s Hunter Biden stories a “mistake”
Roth was discussing Twitter’s efforts to guard against “malign” foreign interference in U.S. elections on the platform, particularly from Russia, when he raised the issue of the Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story.
“Do you remember the laptop repair guy? Do you remember the uncertainty of the whole story?” Roth said. “We didn’t know what to believe, we didn’t know what was true, there was smoke — and ultimately for me, it didn’t reach a place where I was comfortable removing this content from Twitter.”
“But it set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack and leak campaign alarm bells,” he continued in reference to a known team of Russian military intelligence hackers dubbed APT28 or, alternatively, Fancy Bear, who had been accused of interfering in the 2016 election.
Former Twitter Safety head @yoyoel shifts blame when admitting to mistake of supressing Hunter Biden Laptop story
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 30, 2022
A moment later, Swisher asked with regard to Twitter’s censorship of the Post’s stories, “But — so it was a mistake?” to which Roth replied, “In my opinion, yes.”
Twitter interfered in the 2020 election
The New York Post — whose initial reporting on the laptop has since been confirmed and verified by multiple media outlets that initially dismissed it — reported that former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had previously admitted that what his platform did was a “total mistake” that should never have happened.
New Twitter CEO Musk said in a tweet last week that publicly releasing all of Twitter’s “internal discussions” about the Hunter Biden laptop story was “necessary to restore public trust” in the platform.
Ironically, in Roth’s apparent zeal to guard against Russian interference in U.S. elections, Twitter itself interfered to try and protect Biden from the negative impact of the public exposure of his son’s dubious behavior and misdeeds.
And just this week, in response to justifiable criticism of the former “Trust and Safety” as being a “disgrace,” Musk tweeted, “The obvious reality, as long-time users know, is that Twitter has failed in trust & safety for a very long time and has interfered in elections. Twitter 2.0 will be far more effective, transparent and even-handed.”