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Twitter and Facebook's action over Joe Biden article reignites bias claims (bbc.com)
780 points by nkurz 7 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 1664 comments





All: don't miss (if it's the kind of thing you want more of) that there are multiple pages of comments in this thread. You can reach them via the More link at the bottom of each page, or like this:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24789379&p=2

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24789379&p=3

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24789379&p=4

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24789379&p=5


Why is everyone ignoring @jack's official explanation for why Twitter blocked the specific link from being shared? This is the one falsifiable action Twitter clearly took. Twitters official policy is to not allow publication of hacked material or information with Personally Identifying Information - and this material was hacked and had unredacted personal email addresses. I haven't seen any reasonable arguments against these policies, instead I've seen nebulous accusations of biased censorship.

Twitter is clearly okay with the discussion of these emails - no hashtags or keywords are being suppressed: it was a link to a single story that was blocked since it violated stated policy.

Incidentally, the NYT reports that the US intelligence community heard chatter of the GRU using hacked Burisma emails as an October surprise before the NY Post story broke (a trick so nice, they had to do it twice). I guess no one cares for facts anymore, as long as they see patterns that fit their preconceptions


Twitter's "rules" would have stopped huge stories like The Pentagon Papers, Panama Papers, Watergate, etc from being posted on their platform. The statement read like it was typed up by an intern that didn't communicate with the legal team or any logical person.

(edited for clarification)


Why? Watergate was largely built off journalistic work not hacked materials, obviously deep throat was inside the FBI but he was never quoted

>obviously deep throat was inside the FBI

Which is still a huge moral difference. I would have hoped that HN would be one community that would understand the difference between a whistleblower leaking data to journalists to expose a crime versus an outsider committing a crime in order to acquire data to leak for their own political gain. But I guess I shouldn't expect that considering many people here think Snowden, Manning, and Assange are all of equal moral standing.


Once the information is out there, it's in the public interest for it to be openly available and not censored.

No one condoned Russia's intelligence hacking and leaking the DNC/Podesta/Clinton emails, of course, but once they became public knowledge, it'd be ridiculous for a social media company to censor all links to the emails.

Similarly, no one condones repair shop owners snooping on customers' laptops for political dirt, but once it's public, the information itself stands alone.

Twitter would be right to ban the repair shop owner's account, if he had one, but I don't think they're right to censor any references to the leaked information. It's law enforcement's job to determine if a crime was committed and to prosecute the individual if so.


> Once the information is out there, it's in the public interest for it to be openly available and not censored.

This is the way it works these days, but I'm not sure it actually makes sense. In a trial a judge will often tell the jury to disregard information that has been improperly brought forth. It's difficult to enforce, but what wouldn't it make sense to have something similar in the court of public opinion?

Also, it's a slippery slope argument, but I'll point out that "once it's been said, it's true" is a social anti pattern. If I lie, and someone else quotes me, does that make it information that is "out there" or is it just noise?

FWIW, the more we learn about this story, the more similar it sounds to my extreme example.


>In a trial a judge will often tell the jury to disregard information that has been improperly brought forth. It's difficult to enforce, but what wouldn't it make sense to have something similar in the court of public opinion?

No, I don't think it'd make any sense. Courts of law are very specific, rigorous systems. Since people's lives are on the line, it's necessary to abide by a very precise spec. I don't think Twitter and criminal trial courts can be considered analogous at all, and I very much hope they stay as separate as possible until the end of time.

>Also, it's a slippery slope argument, but I'll point out that "once it's been said, it's true" is a social anti pattern. If I lie, and someone else quotes me, does that make it information that is "out there" or is it just noise?

It is a social anti-pattern, but it's the role of respondents to discuss and assess if something is true or not. If something has significant indications of possibly being a hoax, Twitter may be in the right to add a label saying it may be a hoax, but I don't think they have the right to just remove it. If it's a truly unsubstantiated and damaging and/or absurd conspiracy theory (Seth Rich, Pizzagate, Q, etc.), they can put it behind a warning wall with links to resources showing it's false, but even then I still don't think they have a right to just remove it.

In a case like this, where as far as I can tell there isn't currently any strong evidence it's a hoax (just information that happened to be obtained unscrupulously and possibly illegally), it'd be especially egregious to remove it or even put a warning near it. I don't think tech executives should hold the power to judge what is and isn't a social anti-pattern and to ban them, beyond what's already banned in their terms of service (abuse/harassment/etc.).

Also, to turn the slippery slope around, do you think Twitter should have banned all references to Snowden's NSA leaks, due to the information being released illegally? Or the Pentagon Papers, if Twitter existed then? What about the Shadow Brokers compromise/leak (which possibly was a result of Russian intelligence hacking NSA or noticing some tools they mistakenly left on a system, though the attribution is still unconfirmed)?

When is Twitter supposed to judge that disclosure of illegally-obtained information is okay or not okay to censor? Obviously there are some cases where they should censor the material, like someone's explicit photos being leaked as a result of an iCloud account compromise, but especially when it comes to high-profile political leaks or hacks, censorship seems like a terrible idea.

I'm definitely on the anti-Trump, left-leaning side, but even with the current US polarization I'm kind of surprised how many people seem to have a massive bias and blindspot here. If this were Donald Trump Jr.'s emails plucked by a repair shop owner, discussing arrangement of some large payment from Lukoil, I don't think any of the people making these arguments would be at all consistent (beyond maybe agreeing the acquisition was unethical).

The way to address the exposure is to actually look at the contents of the emails and determine what it may imply about Joe Biden and his son, if anything; not to just try to get them removed from the internet Streisand-style. If there is actual misconduct or malfeasance here that implicates Joe Biden, that'd be especially unethical and irrational to call for. So far I'm kind of skeptical that that is the implication here, but it still needs to be assessed impartially.


I think we're past the point, and Twitter is already analogous to court. People's lives and careers are ruined by the social justice mob, sometimes deservingly, sometimes not.

I realize arguing against free speech is deeply unpopular, particularly on this forum. And I also realize it's inherently hypocritical. And, generally, I agree that the cure for "wrong" speech is more speech. Free speech is sacred to me as well.

But, I've also learned that, when shit hits the fan, you gotta slaughter some sacred cows, including those you never thought you could. The counterexamples you bring up are terrific. Is there a way, one that isn't just individual whim, to judge and moderate speech, in a way that is socially productive? I would bet there is, one that we haven't discovered yet.

After all, peer reviewed science hasn't always existed. I think the parallels there are rich. Modern scientists do operate as high priests of truth and knowledge. Who performs that function for speech? The woke left? The conservative right? FANG tech? None of those sound reasonable to me, but that doesn't mean a reasonable plan doesn't exist.



Your links don't seem very informative, and the Youtube video is 10 minutes long. Could you make your comment more explicit?

If you want to know something, wouldn't you spend the time to ask a question about the content?

It is exceptionally difficult to tell someone something; it's often counterproductive. If someone is curious, they will look themselves, and ask a question that belies they have read the material.

If you cant spare the time to read hot mic words or listen to someone who was a NSA technical director, why would you want to hear what _I_ think about it?


Did the Panama Papers expose a crime? Who decides whether a crime has occurred? I would say that Snowden exposed a crime (perjury) by James Clapper. Manning (IMO) exposed war crimes.

Similarly, I think that it was in the interest of the public to report when it was discovered that Trump only paid $750 in taxes (despite not committing a technical crime!) or that Hillary Clinton received some debate questions in advance (again, not a crime!).

This standard that Twitter is applying appears to have no clear line of enforcement, nor does the principle you've put forth.


> or that Hillary Clinton received some debate questions in advance (again, not a crime!).

Also, not actually true!

There were claims that she received debate questions weeks in advance, which are a complete and total fabrication by a probably-not-innocent prank website.

There were separate claims that she received debate questions shortly before the town hall debate. And there was an effort to do so from someone outside of her campaign - but the questions that were provided were not the ones asked, so.... It's false to say she received some debate questions in advance.

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/clinton-received-debate-qu...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/31/ha...


> but the questions that were provided were not the ones asked

Oh come on, the 2016 election is in the past, you don't have to spin it. The questions asked were similar enough and it can't be denied that Clinton got the questions in advance, but not Sanders.

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/donna-brazile-wikilea...

> An email later obtained by POLITICO showed that the text of the question Brazile sent to the Clinton campaign was identical to a proposed question Martin had offered CNN. (A similar, though not identical question, was ultimately posed to Clinton at the town hall).

> In the newest email, sent one day before the March 6 Democratic primary debate in Flint, Michigan, Brazile tells senior campaign staff that “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash. Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.”

> The next night, a woman named Lee-Anne Walters asked both candidates a very similar question.


> The questions asked were similar enough

Honestly I'm confused why people are so hot and bothered about the questions asked. Are any of you seriously surprised by the questions asked? Of course the candidates prepared to answer these questions. If they weren't prepared their prep team should be fired for being woefully incompetent. Seriously, all the questions are about the most popular topics. I honestly would have been shocked if Flint wasn't brought up considering it being part of the national conversation.

Should she have gotten them? No. Is it cheating? Yes. Is it a big fucking deal to detract from actual issues? No. It is just another example of minor cheating that they are doing constantly. But this is like cheating on a test where the teacher pulls questions from the homework and changes a few numbers and you already memorized how to do all the homework problems.


Believe or not we need to trust the integrity of our elected officials. That's the only way government works.

I'm not sure why you think I disagree with you. What I said is focus on the bigger lies because all the little ones pull away from a continued conversation.

Really hard to discuss the integrity of our elected officials given the current President's penchant to lie like a marketer.

It is important to discuss, because at the margin having more integrity will get more turnout and help boot out the current President.

The Constitution of the United States was explicitly designed to create a government where people do not have to trust their elected officials, and still have a functioning government.

> Is it a big fucking deal to detract from actual issues? No.

I think its a big deal when candidate keeps on cheating or lying. It establishes a pattern of dishonest behaviour which the other candidate can easily make a soundbite by calling her crooked.


What some people claimed seems entirely irrelevant to the factuality of whether Hillary Clinton received some debate questions in advance of the debate. On that, the evidence seems pretty cut-and-dry. From your article:

> In an email released Monday morning by WikiLeaks, Brazile provides details to top Clinton aides about what Clinton would be asked at a CNN debate March 6 in Flint, Mich., by a woman whose family had lead poisoning.

> “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash,” Brazile writes in the subject line of an email to Jennifer Palmieri and John Podesta. In the body of the email, she adds: “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint.”

I hate Trump. But acting as if people are so stupid that you can just deny that this even happened? You're only hurting Democrats at the ballot box.


What I said was "there was an effort to do so from someone outside of her campaign - but the questions that were provided were not the ones asked, so.... It's false to say she received some debate questions in advance."

Was there dishonesty from the DNC? Yes! But it's important to say what happened. Someone did a bad job of trying to supply her with a couple of questions. Instead the only thing they managed to provide her was a hint about two of the subjects that would be discussed. So to the point I responded to - Did she "receive some debate questions ahead of time" - nope! She didn't! Just some things that were close.

Did that give her an unfair advantage? Maybe! But I doubt it - if Bernie's campaign didn't expect a question about the Flint water issue, then they're idiots. And I don't think they're idiots. The help offered to Hillary was inaccurate and of dubious worth.


If you attempt to commit fraud, but are really shitty at it and bumble the attempt - I don't think that that makes it any more morally benign.

The emails [0] show pretty clear strategizing with Clinton campaign staff over preparing answers to the exact questions being proposed at the CNN town hall. That the CNN town hall ultimately chose to go with similar questions worded slightly differently does not in some way absolve the Clinton campaign.

[0]: https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/5205


> The help offered to Hillary was inaccurate and of dubious worth.

If you buy a gun and then rob a bank with it -- except the bank teller laughs at you because there's water dripping from your "gun" -- it doesn't diminish the fact that your intent was to rob a bank while yielding a deadly weapon. Just because you're ineffective and can't tell a water pistol from a Glock doesn't mean the intent doesn't, or shouldn't, count.


>Did the Panama Papers expose a crime?

Yes, here is the first google result.[1]

>Who decides whether a crime has occurred?

This is complicated and why there is a preference for whistleblowing to occur through official channels rather than through journalists. However sometimes there is a level of corruption that can't be dealt with any other way besides going public with it. In those instances, it is up to the whistleblower and journalists initially before eventually the court decides. Snowden was good in this regarding by trying to limit what was leaked. Manning did a poor job here.

>I would say that Snowden exposed a crime (perjury) by James Clapper. Manning (IMO) exposed war crimes.

No disagreement here. Snowden and Manning fit a clear definition of whistleblowers. Assange is the one who is not on the same moral footing as those two.

>Similarly, I think that it was in the interest of the public to report when it was discovered that Trump only paid $750 in taxes (despite not committing a technical crime!) or that Hillary Clinton received some debate questions in advance (again, not a crime!).

Trump's taxes likely did reveal numerous potential crimes. He reported different numbers to the government and lenders which would likely indicate he committed fraud.[2] He both employed his daughter and paid her as an external consultant which isn't allowed[3]. He regularly claimed things as business expenses in questionable ways.[4] I'm sure there are many others too, those were just the first three I remembered.

[1] - https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/first-us-t...

[2] - https://www.propublica.org/article/trump-inc-podcast-never-b...

[3] - https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/28/politics/ivanka-trump-donald-...

[4] - https://theintercept.com/2020/09/28/donald-trump-taxes/


> Yes, here is the first google result.[1]

So you would have supported Twitter blocking all mentions of the Panama papers until this conviction last month? Or would Twitter judge ahead of time that a crime has occurred and thus permit the hacked materials to be released?

> In those instances, it is up to the whistleblower and journalists initially before eventually the court decides.

But only journalists of a certain political bent? You seem to be advocating adding Twitter, FB, and other for-profit corporations into the conversation here.

> Assange is the one who is not on the same moral footing as those two.

Assange was the journalist who published Manning's releases. This seems incoherent to me.

> Trump's taxes likely did reveal numerous potential crimes.

The NYPost article revealed the crime of crack possession. It was not so long ago that the FBI did a sting operation to get the same sort of footage they used to convict my city's (DC) mayor. And the FBI clearly thought they had some information about a crime, which is presumably why they were subpoenaed.

Obviously, that's a stupid argument - but that's the point. You are just going to set up arbitrary thresholds for what is a crime and what isn't post-facto to justify blocking what you don't want and allowing what you want.


The phrase "for their own political gain" describes one of those people much better than the other two

That was my intent. Snowden and Manning are whistleblowers. Assange is very much not a whistleblower.

He's a publisher, not the original source, so he can't be a whistleblower (or leaker or whatever). And he seems to be a pompous ass, but let's be honest, people are mad at him because of the particular true things he published.

Collateral murder undermined the effort to sell war as a noble goal, and then Podesta's emails hurt the democrats, so now both political parties and their fans feel personally burned by him.

He's being railroaded right now, were you aware? Not a US citizen but somehow inexplicably being extradited and charged under the US espionage act.


Assange lied about Seth Rich being a source.[1]

Assange has said that he had information on the Trump campaign but decided not to publish it[2].

Assange is accused of taking an active role in hacking/cracking.[3] Also you don't have to be a US citizen to be charged for a crime by the US government.

Any idea that he is an independent journalist is now gone. He's not a force for radical transparency like he originally billed himself to be. He's only concerned about transparency when it benefits him personally or politically and is happy to lie about or coverup anything else.

[1] - https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/us/mueller-report-seth-ri...

[2] - https://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/2934...

[3] - https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/wikileaks...


I said up front that he's a pompous ass, I'm not defending his character.

> Also you don't have to be a US citizen to be charged for a crime by the US government.

You sure about that? I mean, if a non-US citizen commits murder on our shores, fine, charge them, but the espionage act for non-citizens who didn't personally commit any espionage? Really? Shit, even if they did, they're not Americans, you want to extradite every non-American who isn't sufficiently pro-America?


I will admit that aiding and abetting is a gray area, but we are all subject to the laws of countries that we decide to travel to or associate with. If it is true that Assange attempted to solicit classified information and did not simply act as a neutral publisher for a whistleblower, then charging him would fall pretty well in line with both the letter and spirit of the espionage act.

If a US citizen blew a whistle on some abuse in Russia or China, would you be in favor of handing them over to be tried by local authorities?

How much of this argument relies on "we are the good guys of history, so we get carte blanche and if you disagree you are bad"?


But there’s the problem right there. Your analogy is incongruent with the Assange case. Assange is not a whistleblower. Again, if Assange merely published information that he was given (unsolicited), then he should be protected by the first amendment and is not guilty of a crime. However, if he sought out classified information and instructed someone on how to exfiltrate that information, then he clearly broke US espionage laws.

Again, he's not American.

Also, "sought out information".. you're gonna take that as an exception for rights of the press? No publishing about watergate if the editor and journalist "sought out" the information?


> Again, he's not American.

What is your point? Espionage laws are typically intended for foreign nationals.

> Also, "sought out information".. you're gonna take that as an exception for rights of the press? No publishing about watergate if the editor and journalist "sought out" the information?

The press has the right to publish classified information as long as they are solely publishing the information and do not partake in accessing or gathering that information. This was the finding of the Supreme Court in NYT vs US[1].

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_Times_Co._v._United_S...


We don't have extradition treaties with those countries so that hypothetical would never happen. It is the same reason that Snowden isn't facing trial in Russia.

Part of being a "good guy" is standing by your word. We have extradition treaties with the UK. Unless there is some belief that the wanted person couldn't get a fair trial in the UK, we would follow the same process that they are putting Assange through.


You do know that the US has not joined the Rome treaty (which establishes the International Criminal court) and one of the arguments being is that it would allow the trial of Americans who have committed crimes on American soil which is unconstitutional. The US has also be threatening that they would invade the Netherlands to free held American personal. Sounds to me not much like a good guy, but more like a bully saying "do as I say not as I do" .

That phrase seems to apply to Deep Throat (Mark Felt) too, given that many thought he was angling for the job of FBI Director.

As if that wasn't enough, Felt ran COINTELPRO, too.


What crime was committed? The agreement in the article shows that the computer in question became property of the repair shop after 90 days (https://nypost.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2020/10/Comput...)

It is written on a piece of paper so I guess that guarantees that it is both authentic and legally enforceable.

Even so, it only mentions the equipment. Would owning the equipment grant the store ownership over all the information on the computer? Does the store gain legal authority to share that information with a third party that is neither a government official nor a journalist like Giuliani?


If you rent storage space and fail to keep up payments the ownership of any property within transfers to the storage operator. What else is a repair shop owner to do with devices that no one collects?

There is a difference between physical ownership of property and ownership of information. Imagine there is a book in that abandoned storage space. The operator will gain ownership of that copy of the book, but they aren't going to be granted copyright over the book.

But now that you have legal access to the book, you can publish citations from it under fair-use doctrine.

Sure, but fair use is a defense that needs to be argued. You can probably argue that the New York Post publishing excerpts from some of the emails should be protected by fair use. I don't see how you can argue that the store owner is protected by fair use or how the Post releasing and profiting off previously unpublished full photos of Hunter Biden qualify as fair use.

If it is not covered by fair use, then it would be at most copyright infringement, and there the rights holders can use DMCA takedown notices. There was no necessity of Twitter to engage in pro-active censorship here.

In my understanding the policy was aimed originally at stopping the spread of photos like in The Fappening hack. But there was nothing hacked here in my understanding.


In 2016 there were an audio recording of a private conversation that happened after an interview has concluded which the recording studio later used without the permission of the recorded person.

If I remember right the basis for why that was legal was that there existed an public interests to release the recording of a private conversation to the public, and that the recording equipment were legal property of the recording studio.

Four years later and the lawyers of NBC seem to have been right on that.


What do you think Occam's razor would say is more likely? That the documents in the NY Post's reporting are fabricated? (While also knowing that it's over 24 hours later and Biden's campaign has yet to deny that the emails are legitimate) or that the documents are authentic.

I'd give it at best a 50/50 likelihood of being fake, and would hope that a free and liberal society would demand a lot higher confidence than that before they start wantonly censoring things on the internet.


I wasn't saying definitively that the documents are fake. I simply have no idea whether they are authentic or not. These documents originate with Rudy Giuliani who was just revealed to be the target of a Russian disinformation campaign regarding Hunter Biden.[1] I will view anything that is coming from Giuliani with a healthy dose of skepticism until there is some outside confirmation.

However the authenticity of the documents isn't even relevant to the overall point. If they are fake, there is a crime of fraud. If they are authentic, it is likely a crime to release this information. There also doesn't appear to be any evidence of a crime committed by either Hunter or Joe Biden. Even if a meeting took place, which no one is able to confirm, that alone isn't a crime. That lack of crime would seemingly eliminate this as an example of whistleblowing. The end result is that it appears that a crime was committed just to make Biden look bad and try to turn the election in Trumps favor. I don't know why Twitter or Facebook need to allow their platforms to be a pawn in that game.

[1] - https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/giuliani-bi...


> Even if a meeting took place, which no one is able to confirm, that alone isn't a crime.

Except, if it did take place, Joe would be caught in another big lie because he stated he never had any dealing with Hunter's business.


[flagged]


How do you know that this is Russian propaganda? Any facts other than "everybody knows"?

Do you really believe that BS?

I don’t use Twitter, so please remind me: did the site allow linking to articles or documents that Snowden stole[0]? And isn’t a hack just theft by other means? If Twitter benevolently censored linking to those docs then at least we have consistency.

[0] - Yes, it’s more involved than “stealing” because Snowden acted as a whistleblower, but I’m trying to draw a comparison.


They've already used this same policy to stop Blueleaks.

>Twitter's "rules" would have stopped huge stories like The Pentagon Papers, Panama Papers, Watergate, etc.

Only in a universe in which Twitter is the sole means of broadcasting, publishing and communication - but we don't live in that universe, so no, they really wouldn't have.


I don't mean they would have literally stopped the entire story from being a story, but that their own rules would have banned the posting of that news on their own platform, even from viable sources.

Sure, but it still wouldn't matter. It's not a good argument that Twitter "censoring" content actually has any relevant effect beyond its platform.

If Twitter's censorship really has no relevant effect beyond its platform, then why has there been such a push to get Twitter and others to deal better with Russian bots following 2016?

Are these people mistaken? Does what's allowed to appear on Twitter really have no effect on the broader society?


Did I claim that Twitter had no effect on broader society? No. I claimed that Twitter theoretically banning content related to stories like Watergate, the Panama Papers, etc, would have had no relevant effect on the dissemination of those stories beyond its platform. In other words, that Twitter's policies have no relevant effect on the media landscape at large or the spread of information outside of its domain.

Russian bots may or may not be a problem, but that problem is orthogonal to the point I'm trying to make.


So what if Twitter, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft/Bing, Apple and Amazon all refuse to carry the content (including advertisements next to this content).

Do not tell me that's not Big Tech putting their thumb on the scale in a dangerous way.

And before you say it, "muh private platform" is not an acceptable argument. This is dangerous to our society.


There was an interesting case of that in Australia recently, when ISPs colluded to block a bunch of websites that wouldn't take down the Christchurch shooter's manifesto (some of those were forums with very liberal rules on what goes, and their members posted that content). There wasn't any law or government directive or anything like that, not yet. But there was also nothing anybody could do about that, since it was just a bunch of private companies exercising their judgment.

Whatever you think about their cause, you should be worried by the precedent set here. This is censorship at the same scale a government might do, but snuck in through the backdoor, and completely outside of any democratic mechanisms.


>So what if Twitter, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft/Bing, Apple and Amazon all refuse to carry the content (including advertisements next to this content).

Then the content will probably go on to achieve gigantic commercial success; as is usually the case it appears that something is being banned. See e.g. Spycatcher, this story.


==And before you say it, "muh private platform" is not an acceptable argument. This is dangerous to our society.==

More than one thing can be dangerous to our society, like if these platforms were used to spread falsehoods and misinformation unchecked.


I don't consider that dangerous to me.

You're not society, though, are you?

I'm part of an individualist culture which sees things through the lens of individuals, not collective society. Now I care about society and make individual effort to care & contribute towards it, but I wouldn't attempt to view things through a collectivist lens when considering the policy decisions of giant corporations.

I’m not sure I follow. Can you provide examples of policy decisions that are individual and not collective?

Also, what “culture” are you referring to?


In a nutshell, individual freedoms (freedom of speech) trump collective safety (censoring misinformation). The answer is more information, like fact check panels.

Take a look at the national defense budget or each city’s police budget if you think collective safety is below individual freedoms. We clearly put more resources towards collective safety than individual freedoms.

>So what if Twitter, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Microsoft/Bing, Apple and Amazon all refuse to carry the content (including advertisements next to this content).

I mean, do they also control the entirety of mainstream media, all of the news outlets, all book and newspaper publishers, email, television, radio and the entire rest of the internet?

Sorry... this is Hacker News, so I have to point out that they actually don't, and that was kind of a rhetorical question.

No, believe it or not, people would still know about Watergate or the Panama papers even in that case.

>Do not tell me that's not Big Tech putting their thumb on the scale in a dangerous way.

You mean the purely speculative case you just made up? Sure, it would be, but then the purely speculative case you just made up doesn't reflect reality, so who cares?

And even then, as I mentioned, there is still an entire universe of broadcasting and publishing outside of social media, and the internet itself. So even if all social media sites and Apple and Microsoft and Amazon suddenly decided they weren't competitors and collaborated to ban the same content, that content still isn't memory holed or erased from history.

>And before you say it, "muh private platform" is not an acceptable argument. This is dangerous to our society.

Yeah... you should take your brilliant intellectual riposte to 4chan where it would be best appreciated. Here we rather appreciate putting a modicum of effort into refuting someone's position. You're going to need something more compelling than that.


Except for the fact that section 230 argues they shouldnt be censoring anything. So they should be liable to be sued for doing things like this like any other publication.

No it doesn’t.

> Twitters official policy is to not allow publication of hacked material or information with Personally Identifying Information - and this material was hacked and had unredacted personal email addresses

I think the idea is that if this is the rule, a lot of Republicans think it has already been broken a number of times against them.


Do you have any examples of someone's non-public contact information being shared without a response? Their guidelines permit discussion and linking to press stories of hacks provided they don't include someone’s private information, information that could put people at risk of physical harm or danger; and/or information related to trade secrets.

Saying a public person's email address is private information that could lead to physical harm is quite a stretch. If the NYP had redacted the email addresses they would have named a different excuse.

I've seen commenters on HN that claim that the emails are suspect because they don't include DKIM signatures. Redacting the email would make it even more suspicious in their eyes.

I'm not saying that, it is a list of three. And on the guideline for "private information," non-public emails are explicitly mentioned.

If it has been published in a major newspaper is it still non-public?

Yes, it is compromised private information.

Sure,

Maybe Twitter would have found other reasons to block the story if it didn't violate an explicit policy literally, for example it being fake news. Calling something fake news takes more investigation and judgement so the reason they gave was simplest.

It's like, boy, they sure have it in for a sleazy and deceptive hit-piece meant to influence an election at the last moment. Unfair!


Trump shared Lindsey Graham’s phone number on Twitter during the 2016 election primary.

The rule was enacted in 2019, though Donald Trump gave out Graham's number during a rally.

Blue Leaks comes to mind.

Blueleaks led to numerous twitter suspensions, and note that the your linked account does not feature "ddossecrets" in the bio because of that.

Was that shared on Twitter?

Yes:

https://twitter.com/blue_leaks

This one is more also nefarious than it looks, because it includes private information on victims of crime.


How is Hunter Biden not the victim of this crime? Even if you believe the laptop story, his data was stolen.

But you're right. Blue Leaks, if they share hacked personal data on Twitter, should absolutely be banned under the same policy.



They don't seem to be doing a very good job of it given that it took me just a few moments to find the material on an account named blue_leaks ...

That account seems to post news stories about the leaks, which is not a violation of the guidelines. The group that published the leaks had their account banned and links to their site blocked.

> Even if you believe the laptop story, his data was stolen.

They allegedly have a contractual right to the laptop due to non-payment. It's a damn good reason not to take your PC there for repairs, though.


I hope you realize how unlikely the laptop story is to be true.

I can understand why it feels "too perfect" for an October surprise, sure, but then how did they get the pictures of Hunter sleeping with a meth pipe? I ran them through the tools on hackerfactor.com and I see no obvious fakery.

I've heard rumors that Hunter was allegedly hacked to get them, but I have yet to see media reports of this from prior to this story breaking. If you can provide some, please do!

Right now, my take is that, at best, this is an elaborate cover story for releasing real dirt and at worst, it's legit, like the time Hunter returned a rental car with a crack pipe in it. We'll need to dig into it further, though, I want to see if the emails have DKIM validation with a body hash parameter, etc.


> We'll need to dig into it further, though

Fundamentally, the reason this got banned and then ignored is that that need is SUPPOSED to be supplied by the journalists doing the research, not random conspiracy nerds on the internet.

> I've heard rumors that Hunter was allegedly hacked to get them, but I have yet to see media reports of this

Exactly! Which is the level of rigor you should expect to see from your sources. Which makes it doubly frustrating that you seem not to be applying that same logic to the original story.

FWIW: I'll bet you anything that no headers ever appear for those emails anywhere (at least none from western domains -- I'll admit to the possibility that the Kremlin could forge a DKIM signature for a Burisma address). They're almost certainly forgeries, which is why they're being distributed in the crazy obfuscated way they are.


Well, let's just say that there aren't many journalists I trust to validate a DKIM signature and even then it matters whether there's a body hash in it or not. The last time this came up, I know that I personally pulled the DKIM key to check and I never saw any journalist doing that, though several did repeat Donna Brazille's claim that the email was fabricated--something proven directly false by the body hash parameter on the email claimed to be fake.

Oh, and the relevant DKIM key in that case came from Hillary's DNS server, I know because I pulled it myself. Maybe the Kremlin hacked that, but that would implicate a lot more reporting than just Donna's claims.

So yes, I do want to see more journalism regarding this, but it also needs sufficient rigor. I don't just believe any random person who claims XYZ, whether or not I tend to agree with them, I want to see verifiable facts.

And yeah, those are in pretty short supply. I've seen tons of anonymous rumors, various forms of citogenesis, etc. far more often than I've seen things that can be subjected to some kind of objective fact finding process.


> Well, let's just say that there aren't many journalists I trust to validate a DKIM signature

Uh... why would the journalist "validate" the DKIM signature? Publish the RFC822 content of the email and let everyone do it themselves. That's the whole point of public key encryption. And the fact that the Post skipped that very obvious and easy step tells me that this is almost certainly faked data.

> I don't just believe any random person who claims XYZ

With all respect: you clearly seem inclined to believe this nonsense about the emails with only the barest of evidence. It's only the attempts to refute it that have you worried about "rigor".


Eh, sometimes the signatures fail to validate because mail clients do non-substantive modifications (spacing, etc.). We went through that before, too. You're right that one should always validate it themselves and I should've said that I don't think many journalists know how to work it, because honestly, I haven't seen anyone but Wikileaks actually do that validation, ever.

> With all respect: you clearly seem inclined to believe this nonsense about the emails with only the barest of evidence.

I haven't said anything about the email content, though. I investigated a photo of Hunter sleeping with a meth pipe using hackerfactor.com's tools to look for manipulation and did not find any. That doesn't mean they're real, but it gives them some level of credence, given that there are old reports about his rental car substantiated by police reports.

You're right that it doesn't validate the email content. I plan to withhold judgement until we have more data, but it looks like they do have some files of his.

It doesn't help that the last time we went through this sort of thing, there were spurious claims of manipulated documents which were actively disproved and some of the denials I've read parse very narrowly, which isn't right.


> but then how did they get the pictures of Hunter sleeping with a meth pipe?

Actually, and this is coming from someone who is definitely not a Democrat: I'd think that picture points towards planted evidence. The picture is probably real for what I know, but why would he keep it on his laptop?


A better question is why he'd take it to begin with, but I've seen enough people post stupid pics of them doing drugs that I can't fully discount it for that reason.

I mean, how many times have we heard variations on "Idiot caught doing drugs after posting pics on Facebook/Instagram/etc."?


Ha, against "them". All republicans. As a monolith. As if they are a sports team.

This sums up the central problem in modern politics as a whole right here.


Modern? George Washington warned about this in his farewell address. 8 years after the United States of America began this was already becoming a problem!

George Washington on “the spirit of party” in his farewell address:

> It serves always to distract the Public Councils, and enfeeble the Public Administration. It agitates the Community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection.


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I would imagine the opposite side would say the same.

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i always found this argument lacking, like what is that supposed to show me... that there were these 20 times he denounced them and then this VERY publicly one time he didn't?

like imagine this was like child trafficking or something. you denounce that shit heavily each and every time, no ambiguity, no question. even if you're asked to do it 50 times it should be 50/50. the fact that people have to pull that as a "defense" is ridiculous lol.


The clips are almost exclusively him denouncing it in response to being criticized for not denouncing it. It's like a child that will say anything to get out of time out by the time he gets to it. It shouldn't take so much work.

> I always found this argument lacking, like what is that supposed to show me... that there were these 20 times he denounced them and then this VERY publicly one time he didn't?

Yes. This tells you his public stance is that he's anti white supremacist and willing to denounce them.

Do you honestly think he chose the debates as a the best time to secretly signal his base that he's a closet KKK member?

> like imagine this was like child trafficking or something. you denounce that shit heavily each and every time, no ambiguity, no question. even if you're asked to do it 50 times it should be 50/50. the fact that people have to pull that as a "defense" is ridiculous lol.

If my wife asks if I love her 50 times and I say yes 49 times, but once I get distracted. Which is more likely I secretly hate my wife or I just got distracted.

cycomanic 6 days ago [flagged]

So explain to me how do you get distracted in a presidential debate and when asked to condem a white supremacist group you say "proud boys stand back and stand by" that's not how you get distracted and forget to say something, that is how you talk to what you consider "your troops/team".

You're in your 70s and coming down with covid, the moderator asks you to tell white supremacists to "stand down". You ask the moderator who should you say that to? Biden interjects "proud boys". You try to repeat what the moderator told you but instead tell them to "stand back"/"stand by" instead of stand down.

Literally one of the people explaining how trump supports white supremacists to me made this exact same mistake despite him being in his 30s and not coming down with covid.

Trump is a terrible president for plenty of reasons, we don't need to make ones up.


His base certainly took it as a very good time, if you've seen how e.g. the Proud Boys reacted to it.

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"I love being white and I think it's something to be very proud of"

- Gavin McInnes, the founder of Proud Boys

The group claims to not be racist, yes, and they do have non-white members. However, their specific stances on various issues do add up to a white supremacist group in practice. As for non-white membership, it seems to be more along the lines of "honorary Aryans".


Let's put it this way. The Proud Boys have more white supremacists among them than the general population have.

Very different than being a white supremacist organization.

“Yes, you’ve denounced them, but have you done so in the last 20 minutes?”

At a certain point you get tired of answering, “have you beaten your wife today?” Even if the answer is always no.


If your wife keeps showing up with black eyes muttering that she fell down the stairs, it merits asking every day. If Trump stopped pandering to white nationalists, people would stop having to ask.

It’s hard to tell what “pandering to white nationalists” means anymore, and I think the media perceives much more of that than actual non-white people do: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/18/opinion/biden-latino-vote...

> The results are sobering. We began by asking eligible voters how “convincing” they found a dog-whistle message lifted from Republican talking points. Among other elements, the message condemned “illegal immigration from places overrun with drugs and criminal gangs” and called for “fully funding the police, so our communities are not threatened by people who refuse to follow our laws.”

> Almost three out of five white respondents judged the message convincing. More surprising, exactly the same percentage of African-Americans agreed, as did an even higher percentage of Latinos.

> These numbers do not translate directly into support for the Republican Party; too many other factors are at play. Nevertheless, the results tell us something important: a majority across the groups we surveyed did not repudiate Trump-style rhetoric as obviously racist and divisive, but instead agreed with it.

If the media had any self-awareness, it wouldn’t automatically label points a majority of non white people “agreed with” as “obviously racist and divisive.”

As someone from a third-world country I felt this way over the pearl-clutching when Trump said “s—thole countries.” It’s a crass and very cruel thing to say. Definitely offensive. But not racist. People don’t leave Bangladesh because they’re racist, they do so because of the poverty, arsenic in the water, etc.


Is it hard? It seems to me he does it quite plainly. I feel like people who reach for defense of this man are having to face their own biases and demons and it's ugly.

This is a naive take on it. When someone asks you a question they know the answer to, because you have answered it before, they’re not trying to enlighten themselves. They are accusing you of something. In the case of Trump, they’re accusing him of being a white supremacist. In fact, Chris Wallace asked Trump the exact same question during the 2016 election debate, and he condemned white supremacy in no uncertain terms.

A diplomatic person would break out the canned condemnation for the 50th time. Trump is not a diplomatic person.


If someone asks you the same question 50 times you ignore the person asking.

If 50 different people ask you the same question you put out a press release.

If 5000 ask you put out a news conference.

Responding to anything implies many things not r



When you repeatedly go through the cycle of blaming "both sides" and telling white supremacists to "stand by", and then making your press office issue a correction after the fact when enough people complain about it, that doesn't count as condemning white supremacists.

Do you really really think he supports white supremacists while having a Jewish son-in-law?

Do you think actual white supremacists are dumb enough to accept that? I accept that actual white supremacists aren't the brightest souls on this planet, but seriously?

Or is it just the general problem of

- taking things out of context

- using "white supremacist" as a general slur for people one doesn't like?

Because if all the people I see named as white supremacists were that then I think 2020 would be the year were white supremacists stood up for the Jews and that would be quite a news story for anyone who dared to break it :-)


Even in the old third Reich there were plenty of examples of "real-politik". And Trump will support anyone at a whim. He has no allegiance and policy.

Any non-dumb actual white supremacists are surely capable of playing the long game and deal with son-in-laws when they get there.


It seems this is well debunked for anyone who cares to check.

I'd recommend following people on both sides. It is ugly but you might come out smarter.


Yeh but what about wikileaks, trumps taxes, and so many other story. But even if it was policy the fact they banned the press secretary of the united states should give everyone pause.

Should the press secretary’s Twitter account get special treatment?

No. The White House Press Office does not need a twitter account. They can issue press releases and hold press conferences, and both will be widely covered by the national media or view on the internet. There is no reason they need to use twitter.

Yes.

I figured the rules applied to everyone when they sign the TOS.

When the internet has a publicly owned space that no private entity controls, you get to make that argument. Until then, platforms like Twitter are the next best thing we have to a public square (and in fact really the ONLY online public square), and that means that when our public political figures speak their voices must be made heard.

Arguing otherwise simply justifies using the rules as a sledgehammer to silence voices you don't like. The WH Press Secretary is a very, very loud voice that should be listened to whether you like it or not. She said nothing mean, nothing cruel, nothing divisive or illegal or inciting violence, she linked to a news story by the 4th largest publication in the US. This is about as vanilla as you can get and it is completely unjustifiable to block her account just for that.


==The WH Press Secretary is a very, very loud voice that should be listened to whether you like it or not.==

This sounds pretty authoritarian. I can think of plenty of times this wouldn’t be true. What if she directly invited violence or knowingly spread foreign propaganda?

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/national-security/feds-exam...


How exactly is it authoritarian to say that the press secretary for the president of the United States shouldn't have their means of communications, on what's become essentially a public commons, rate limited by a corporation? The problem with your argument, and frankly more than half of the arguments in this clusterfuck of a comment thread, is that if we want to go that way we have to argue in favor of corporate sovereignty given the power these companies have. That's gross to me, for probably a dozen or so reasons.

Because nobody should be above the rules they agree to before using. You are arguing for political immunity based on holding a job that is neither elected nor approved by elected officials. That is authoritarian, whether or not you find it “gross”.

Your desires to insult those who disagree with you and fast forward to some “corporate sovereignty” fantasy aren’t relevant to the discussion of whether this action broke the terms Twitter has laid out.

==if we want to go that way we have to argue in favor of corporate sovereignty given the power these companies have.==

Or, we just allow them to manage their users, user agreements, and platform like we do other businesses. Your argument is to take that power away from companies and give it to government.


Who is talking about political immunity? I want to hear what my officials are saying! You would deny me that right. Who is the authoritarian here?

If it is not clear to you yet, there is no recourse to logical discussion. The desire to "silence" certain voices has been expressed clearly, and influential institutions have already led the way in this regard.

I predict that your views will likely find a far more receptive audiance in the generations that will follow. What is happening now is the result of decades of pedagogical prepration, and generations that really do not know what it is like to live under authoritarian regimes or cultures.

Those of us who immigrated to United States precisely to escape authoritarianism recognize the signs full and well. It is quite unsettling to see what is happening in this nation.


I know! I never thought I’d see unmarked government agents roaming American cities disappearing people [1]. Maybe the uproar over a private company enforcing their TOS is actually meant to distract from the true authoritarian threat?

[1] https://www.npr.org/2020/07/17/892277592/federal-officers-us...


"[A] private company enforcing their TOS" is a disingenuous characterization of the issue. A de-facto public communication platform -- the "consumer product" in your 'technicalities' world view -- is obstructing disemination of expression.

Unmarked officers of the state grabbing people off the streets is not acceptable, either.

Both are features of mickey mouse states, the world over. There are various assumptions we make, when we try and make sense of the world. Most of these assumptions are based on good faith. Suspending disbelief regarding the unspoken possibilities for actual dynamics in play affords the insight that the above 2 items are not necessarily at odds for some interested actors.


==“[A] private company enforcing their TOS" is a disingenuous characterization of the issue. A de-facto public communication platform -- the "consumer product" in your 'technicalities' world view -- is obstructing disemination of expression.==

It is obstructing the dissemination of things that break its TOS. Should people be allowed to dox others on Twitter? People get banned for calls for violence pretty frequently.

What makes Twitter a “de-facto communication platform”? Is tiktok? Skype? Instagram? Twitter isn’t a public square, but the internet is, and this story is readily available on the internet.


Then you probably want to know that your public servants are doing that, don't you? Rather than not know at all? Authoritarian would be you're not allowed to know at all. I'm pretty sure we tried that sometime in history, oh that just rings a bell... and it didn't work out so well then.

Or didn't you realize that this insanity cuts both ways?


The internet itself is the public square. There is an immense amount of publicly owned space online. Take for example:

https://www.whitehouse.gov/news/

One of thousands of places online that the white house fully controls, where the press secretary can say whatever she wants, accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

For some private individuals a twitter ban, coupled with bans from a dozen other internet hubs, might be a difficult hurdle to overcome, as starting a new site and then getting traffic to it is difficult due to network effects. But to claim that public officials have no means of having their voices heard besides twitter is patently absurd.


Hey, when everyone is hanging out over at whitehouse.gov, let me know.

Until then your argument is beside the point.


> Arguing otherwise simply justifies using the rules as a sledgehammer to silence voices you don't like.

Arguably, this is the purpose of every rule ever made in any context (if you follow the chain of reasoning far enough)


Twitter.com is not a public square. It’s a private property and they can kick your ass off whenever they feel like it, for any reason.

Are you aware of the term "public easement"? In many jurisdictions you are not able to block public access to your "private property" once the public gets accustomed to accessing that property. Same thing should apply here. You don't get to just open your private property for everyone to use and then close it for people you don't like politically many years later.

Twitter has a terms of service that you must agree to before using. These aren’t the same thing.

Twitter has already, on several occasions, been forced by the courts on "public square" grounds to take actions Twitter didn't want to for political reasons.

You're looking at the leaf on the tree and assuring everyone you see the forest.


Section 203 made them a public square because unlike the private property who would be liable for whats done on that land twitter gets a pass. And its looking more and more like they shouldn't. And if that happens twitter wont exist.

You know perfectly well that that's not a satisfying argument to what I said. Try again.

And, you're wrong by the way. Courts have already ruled more than once that it is, which is why Trump's account still exists.


You're wrong by the way. Trump's account exists because Twitter makes money off of him.

Of course it should. Not only practically because twitter shouldn't be monitoring the government that polices it, but also cause if that government lets say strips twitter protections it would be dumb of twitter to have done.

How does this constitute hacking?

The repair shop almost certainly retains ownership of unclaimed deviced after some period of time. The shop owns the laptop. The data is theirs to do with as they please and they chose to publish it (at least, that's the story). No hacking necessary.


> The data is theirs to do with as they please. No hacking necessary.

I'd love to see the jurisprudence on this. If there are any photos, do they also get the copyrights? Can they share any nudes they find? How about that Adobe license?

As a non-lawyer, it is clear that owning the medium doesn't mean you own the information on it (or the cloud wouldn't be a thing). If we agree on that, then logically, it is possible to exfiltrate information that does not belong to you without authorization, which I think can be called "hacking".


The nudes isn't even hypothetical - reportedly the data included intimate videos.

Copyright violation is not hacking.

I made no such argument - I was establishing rules around ownership of information when the medium belongs to someone else, seeing that you cannot hack your own information (gp's argument)

So is all piracy hacking?

S/hacking/violation of CFAA or similar state statute. Hacking is often used as a shortcut for “computer crime”.

Should Twitter ban all copyright-infringing images by saying they violate a rule against "hacking"? Almost all memes are copyright-infringing.

...no? I was just clarifying what was meant by hacking.

I was more asking about what Twitter's view is. If they consider copyright violation to be hacking, and they have a rule against hacking, do they ban all copyright violation with that rule.

Considering copyright violation to be hacking seems pretty out there to me, and I haven't seen clear evidence that Twitter actually holds that point of view.


Ownership of data is not the same as ownership of publication rights. However, the pictures and emails in question were clearly not copyrighted or licensed.

If transferring ownership of a physical data storage device does not constitute transferring ownership of the data stored therein, then I don't know what does.

When it comes to the cloud, that sounds more to me like leasing storage rights, but I'm no lawyer.


However, the pictures and emails in question were clearly not copyrighted or licensed.

I think you misunderstand US copyright law. With few exceptions, almost all pictures and emails are copyright by whoever took the picture or wrote the email. Is there some reason that these would not qualify?


>Is there some reason that these would not qualify?

I believe excerpts of pictures or emails taken for news reporting qualifies as fair use. It's not like they showed the whole picture, they just cropped his face with the crack pipe in his mouth. Likewise, the full emails where they discuss illegally peddling influence and pay for play with all the headers wasn't published. Just select emails with enough metadata to give context.

Copyright doesn't supersede the first amendment right of free press. At worst, the NYPost is on the hook for $150,000 per violation. They can probably make that much and then some on the scoop. It may be worth it to them, even if they lose on a fair use argument. It's a huge scoop in October of an election year.


All true, in my not-a-lawyer opinion. The important addition is that "fair use" is a defense that allows the use of copyrighted material in certain circumstances. Like a book review that includes an excerpt from a novel, the underlying material is still protected by copyright. It doesn't mean the material is "not copyrighted"---the whole reason fair use applies is because it is protected by copyright. Practically all emails and photos that contain any element of originality are protected by copyright.

> I think you misunderstand US copyright law.

I probably do. This is the first I've heard of that.

Regardless, the NY Post article in question did not publish any of the pictures and I doubt the same copyright law applies to emails.


It looks like copyright does apply to the vast majority of emails based on the text of applicable laws.

"Northeastern University Law Review: Do Not Forward: Why Passing Along an Email May Constitute Copyright Infringement"

http://nulawreview.org/extralegalrecent/do-not-forward-why-p...

However, the issue has not been well tested in courts. The piece ends by saying "Congress should act to clarify whether and when forwarding an email infringes the author’s reproduction right in the work."


Since when has any news outlet considered copyright when publishing information of public interest? That is core fair use.

If copyright applied in cases like this, any politician who said or wrote something embarrassing could block reporting it.

Usually the embarrassing information is published before the embarrassed party is aware that their dirty laundry is about to go public. Once the information is out there, a copyright infringement suit is usually an irrelevant or losing move for managing the politician's image. I would rate this story worse for Biden if he filed a copyright infringement suit against the computer repair guy or the Post, for example. Using copyright could prevail legally yet lose in the more politically important court of public opinion.

US news publishers are not prohibited from publishing copyrighted information for the purpose of making the news. That’s part of the First Amendment.

Whether the repair shop owner had copyright to the content is totally irrelevant. He had legal possession of the drive, and handed it to a journalist who found something newsworthy on it.

Almost every single major story every told in modern history will contain essentially the same type of information transfer, and it is not illegal for the journalist to use this information or publish it if it’s newsworthy.

Sometimes a source can go to jail for sharing the information. But almost certainly that won’t happen in this case, because there is no evidence that the repair shop owner did anything wrong. In fact, he was the one who called the FBI!


>Whether the repair shop owner had copyright to the content is totally irrelevant. He had legal possession of the drive, and handed it to a journalist who found something newsworthy on it.

No. He handed it to a lawyer working for the President of the US' personal lawyer (Rudy Guiliani), not a journalist. Guiliani handed it to the NY Post and then worked with them.


Not following the details of the story, but has anyone suggested that Hunter dropped off the laptop himself?

Stealing a laptop and causing a bit of damage to initiate a costly repair, then leaving it with a shop under an assumed name seems like a solid Mitnick-level hack to me.


They have Hunder's signature on the receipt

I think the most likely scenario is that he went on a bender (he has well known substance abuse problems) and locked himself out, dropped it off to get it fixed, and forgot about it. This seems much more plausible than some of the other extremely complex theories which assume that, ahem, Rudy Gulianni (of all people) was able to plan a years long scam to procure this particular computer.

Is there any evidence the computer is legit? The only indisputable thing is the photos right? And those could have been hacked from anywhere. Or am I missing something? (I haven’t studied it much)

There's lots of stuff on there that only Hunter would know. It's legit.

Or, none of the leaked data came from the "computer" in question. Hunter's iCloud backup was hacked, Burisma's internal emails were breached by the GRU last year. Combine those two sources, mix real correspondences with some forgeries, and blame it all on a single laptop a MAGA supporter happened upon in rural Delaware.

Makes perfect sense, if you want it to.


Yeah, sure, certainly plausible. But that's a lot more complicated than a guy who has a substance abuse problem doing things with his computer that a guy with a substance abuse problem would probably do (btw Hunter is sober now, I think).

> certainly plausible

You missed my sarcasm. If you believe son of the Vice President abandoned his laptop in rural Deleware to a Trump supporter to eventually give it to the Trump campaign, I have several bridges in NY to sell you.


Ha, well hat tip to you my friend. Poe's Law strikes again.

As if this needed clarification (it very much did not):

https://time.com/5902557/hunter-biden-rudy-giuliani-ukraine/


Wouldn't it classify as hacking if the data had any encryption? Bypassing encryption to reach copyrighted media would be a DMCA violation if nothing else.

No clue if any encryption was used though, and either way the doxxing restriction could stop it.


OSX has had FileVault enabled by default since 2014, though we don't know how old the laptop in question actually is.

It's not hacking to decrypt your own data. The argument is, and the precedent set by law supports, that failure to pay for and retrieve the device after a set period of time transfers ownership. It's basically the legal grounds of "finders keepers"

People keep asserting that ownership of the data passed to the shop owner, but it's not at all clear that's the case.

1) Assuming Biden did bring and abandon the laptop, what do state laws generally say about data ownership? What does Delaware law say about it?

2) We can't assume it was Biden who brought the laptop. Suppose it was stolen: naively, I'd guess ownership can't pass to the store owner, because the person who brought it didn't own it in the first place. But who knows: IANAL. What if the laptop was legitimately owned by someone not Biden, but they stole Biden's data and moved it to the laptop before abandoning it?

3) Again naively, it appears that the shop owner definitely and Giuliani potentially distributed intimate videos of Hunter Biden without his consent. That would seem to run afoul of revenge porn laws, which are on the books in both Delaware (as of 2014) and New York (as of July 2019).

I don't know if the blanket assertions you're making are accurate or useful. At the very least, they need to be fleshed out, and there's way too little information available right now to say conclusively that the owner of the shop broke no laws.


That would still violate the DMCA where owning data isn't important.

>How does this constitute hacking?

IIUC, the idea is that the whole thing was a setup from start to finish:

1. Burisma emails were hacked;

2. Hunter Biden's iCloud account was hacked;

3. They bought a Mac, dumped a bunch of the hacked photos, along with some real hacked emails and some forged ones;

4. Sent someone over to the computer shop with the frame up on the laptop already in place;

5. Either the store owner was complicit from the beginning, or they just used him as a dupe.

The above may or may not be true. But again, IIUC that's the line that Twitter is taking.

If that's what Twitter believe (or can credibly claim to believe), then they're executing the policies in their TOS.

I'm not saying it's true, and I'm not saying it ain't. That's just my understanding of Twitter's stand on this.


Even if that scenario is true, there is zero evidence to corroborate it, nor has there been any concluded official investigation into the matter. I don't think it's fair for Twitter to execute that portion of their policy based on assumption alone.

> Even if that scenario is true, there is zero evidence to corroborate it,

I'm not saying that there is.

That's just my understanding of Twitter's reasoning, not a defense of them or anyone else.

Don't shoot the messenger, eh?


There's zero evidence to corroborate anything, though, including plausible scenarios where publishing this information is either illegal or foreign electoral interference or both. And, as far as it goes, not even the Post's story has any evidence to verify it. Even the emails' authenticity is still in question, which would be trivial to verify if Giuliani and the Post simply released the raw emails instead of image files.

Meanwhile Steve Scully was suspended, reportedly because his twitter account was not hacked, as previously claimed, so sometimes the "hack" claims are spurious and need time to be sorted out.

"I sure hope this computer repairmen scans the data of our abandoned computer, realizes what it contains, and turns the data over to Rudy Giuliani or equivalent."

If the store owner was in on it, then he's taking a heckuva gamble on this working out right, with relatively little (known) reward.

The claimed story seems simpler.


That seems like an extraordinarily risky undertaking. You would certainly be found out and face real consequences.

Remember the guy got the FBI involved, which would make the whole operation a federal crime.


Look up the Skripal poisoning. Russian agents have operated in NATO countries before to do stuff like this.

That said, the “hack” theory is pretty weak, I believe it mainly relies on a coincidence that Burisma was hacked last year https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/13/us/politics/russian-hacke...

However, the computer shop guy claims the laptop was dropped off in early 2019 and this article says the Russians hacked Burisma in November 2019. The email PDFs themselves provided by the NY Post are dated September 2019, so stuff doesn’t add up here.


There is no shortage of Republican operatives that will risk jail time to further their cause. See [1] for example.

And regarding the FBI, they were hoping that the FBI would open some sort of investigation, which would give the issue much more credibility. But that failed, so plan b was to just hand it over to NY Post.

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2020/10/1/21497823/jacob-wohl-jack-...


If that were true, we would already be hearing denials about those emails. The fact that we haven't, indicates to me that they are instead going to tack on the "official Biden schedule shows he didn't meet with this guy" line because the emails are legit.

It's perfectly plausible that the Biden campaign has no idea if they're authentic or not, because neither he nor anyone on his campaign were on them. The only people who actually know if they're authentic or not are Hunter Biden, the sender, and anyone who has the emails. Which, incidentally, includes the NYP, who could mathematically prove their authenticity instantly by simply publishing them in the raw. In fact, if the NYP did any due diligence at all, they already verified the emails themselves. Which raises the question: why are they publishing just the images?

My bet is that the NYP didn't bother to verify the emails, because they don't even know how to do basic due diligence on these types of things. (I would guess they're authentic though, FWIW.)


Could be a "drip drip" play - wait for the people in question to explicitly deny the authenticity of the messages, then drop the raws for maximum impact. The longer they sit on this, though, the less likely that is, and I'm not sure if I trust the Post to be savvy enough for that kind of thing.

That's exactly what this is. 'Expect more bombshells in the coming days' -- Rudy Guilliani

> Hunter Biden

You're right - my comment was written under the assumption that the Biden camp has enough access to Hunter that they could verify the authenticity of the emails. I'll add: I would be shocked if that were not the case.

Regardless of my personal feelings about the NYP, my guess is they probably did verify to some extent and I agree that they are probably authentic.

I can understand the temptation of doing this sort of "slow the spread" if you're a social media platform faced with Trump, my worry is when that gets turned around and deployed against the Left, or against anti-trust, etc. I'm already getting near daily push notifications from Uber telling me which way to vote in California elections, I'm terrified of what the future holds where Twitter et al. can ban certain messages from even being sent to friends.


My mental model of Hunter Biden is a well-coiffed crack addict, who probably has said and done a thousand things and as likely as not has no clue what scams he was engaged in in 2015. He could potentially verify the emails; he could hem and haw out of embarrassment; he could lie; he could have himself lost access to the emails, which were, after all, downloaded onto the laptop he ostensibly lost.

And suppose you're a campaign operative, and you've been tasked with finding out from Hunter whether the emails are authentic or not. He swears that they're not. Next question: do you bet the campaign on his honesty?

> my guess is they probably did verify to some extent

Probably verifying to some extent is frustrating when it's trivial to mathematically prove authenticity via DKIM.

As far as social media and big tech goes, as soon as they took on this role of moral arbiters of the world, they signed onto an endless stream of these controversies. This is the world we live in now.


> he could have himself lost access to the emails, which were, after all, downloaded onto the laptop he ostensibly lost. And suppose you're a campaign operative, and you've been tasked with finding out from Hunter whether the emails are authentic or not. He swears that they're not. Next question: do you bet the campaign on his honesty?

This was in 2019 - I'm assuming that the emails are backed up somewhere.

> they took on this role of moral arbiters of the world

Who gave them this role? I certainly didn't and I will donate to anyone who supports taking this role from them.


> This was in 2019 - I'm assuming that the emails are backed up somewhere.

Where? The laptop was lost in 2019, but the emails are from 2015. At some point they were on his company's mail servers, though whether they're still there would depend on their mail retention policy, which in my experience is often as short as 2 years. Even if they do still have it, going from campaign to Hunter Biden to ??? to IT personnel can take awhile.

> Who gave them this role? I certainly didn't and I will donate to anyone who supports taking this role from them.

I mean, if you're on Facebook/Twitter/etc, you are giving them this role, it's just a tradeoff you find acceptable for convenience.


They already said precisely that.

That isn’t a credible argument. Why would Hunter Biden, whose dad is running for President, leave his laptop at a Trump-supporting discount computer repair shop without paying with (supposedly) incriminating emails on it? It’s so convoluted... it only makes sense if you wanted to fabricate cover for illegally hacking someone’s data (or more likely, modified and/or falsified data) and releasing it. As it is, the computer repair shop doesn’t own copyright of the PII and has no right to release it.

He's left valuable stuff before. He left his wallet and a crack pipe in a rental car that he returned. Some people are just forgetful.

Aside from the leak, it's also not the loss that it would be for most of us. He's rich. He had some sort of iCloud backup thing (sorry not a Mac user) to restore all the data, so he wasn't missing anything. Picking up an old laptop wouldn't be worthwhile if a replacement arrived before the old one was repaired.


The loss is that he left (supposedly) incriminating data on a laptop. That is incredibly valuable no matter how rich he supposedly is. It's just not a credible argument.

(And again, note that the repair shop owner never saw who dropped off the laptop. He just inferred it was Hunter Biden because there was apparently a Beau Biden sticker on the laptop.)


Have you ever interacted over a period of time with a crack addict?

Crackhead does not think the same way or act in any sort of reasonable manner. Well sometimes they do and then next day they break into a house crack a woman on the head killing her and get put into prison. While having enough money in the bank to stay high for years. It does not make sense but that is what one former classmate of mine did.

None of it surprising in any way.


This “(supposedly) incriminating data” is incredibly valuable and (presumably incriminating) circumstantial evidence of illegal drug use is not?

Why would you smoke crack when you know the navy would drug test you?

Why would you knock up a stripper while cheating on your dead brothers widow who you were also dating?

How the contents of that laptop made their way to the news is a bizarre story. But that dude also made some bizarre decisions.


> Why would you smoke crack when you know the navy would drug test you?

Because you are addicted.


Here is a good explanation of what likely happened[1]. The laptop shows up at this repair shop in early 2019, and the shop owner "declared that because he is legally blind, he could not identify the person who brought it in".

Supposedly, this blind shop owner then gains access to the computer (doesn't say how, was it unprotected?) and it contains lewd videos of Hunter (again, blind shop owner). So he copies the drive (which is likely illegal in Delaware) and then he reached out to the FBI, or the FBI reached out to him, or someone else reached out to the shop owner (i.e. Rudy) and told him to reach out to the FBI. We don't really know because they can't get their story straight on that one.

Months later, and the FBI still hasn't announced an investigation, so they go to Plan B and Rudy hands the (likely illegally ) copied hard drive over to the NY Post.

Even if you believe their story, the shop owner likely broke some laws by copying and handing over PII to NY Post. But I am personally more inclined to believe that either the laptop was planted by someone, or that shop owner (who is an avid Trump supporter) was in on the ruse, and that the laptop/source material was not accidentally left by Hunter.

[1] https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/10/15/1986703/-Dezinfo...


Hunter Biden's iCloud backup was hacked, which isn't too hard. Combine those real photos with some real (and some fake) emails the GRU hacked from Burisma last year, you have a ready-made "October surprise".

The degree in which you "fall for it" is the degree in which you want to see Trump reelected. No one that could fog a mirror would normally believe such nonsense.


The FBI had Hunter Biden's laptop (or really repair shop owner's, since he didn't pick it up or pay the $85 repair bill) since December of last year. This should be fairly easy to corroborate. That's why we aren't hearing on-the-record denials. There's a lot more where that came from, and it's likely real.

As if this needed clarification (it very much did not):

https://time.com/5902557/hunter-biden-rudy-giuliani-ukraine/


The FBI investigated the circumstances in which the Trump campaign ended up with Hunter Biden's photos and emails.

That doesn't corroborate the story, it compromises it.


> it compromises it

How? The laptop does exist, so at a minimum this is not an outright fabrication, allusions to which I've seen several times in the comments here. The veracity of the photos of crackhead Hunter seems to be also beyond reasonable doubt. As is the fact that he was magically getting millions of dollars for things he has no expertise in, for some reason. The veracity of emails can likely be confirmed by the FBI using DKIM.

A better question would be why this did not come up during the impeachment hearings. There's some exculpatory evidence on that laptop.


FWIW, using language like 'crackhead Hunter' is a pretty strong tell that you are a troll. If you want engage in debate on HN, I suggest you clean it up a bit.

And to answer your question, the intelligence community believes that this is GRU disinformation[1]. So that is why this wasn't used in the impeachment hearings. And also why the FBI is not investigating this.

[1] https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/521328-intellig...


There's literally a picture of him with a crack pipe in his mouth. He's factually a crackhead.

Also, you might want to avoid such categorical statements, because one of Devon Archer's business associates has recently flipped and provided his emails as well. Those corroborate the "China" arc of the story. Note that the story you linked is a repost of a WaPo story, which itself has no on-the-record corroboration from ODNI, FBI or DOJ. So I'm pretty sure it's fake news.


> There's literally a picture of him with a crack pipe in his mouth. He's factually a crackhead.

It was a meth pipe. If you got something so basic wrong, why would anything else you said be true?


Images can be faked. Videos can be faked. I can make a deepfake video using open source tools with a few hours of work. There is a video floating around on the internet that shows Trump in a hotel with women peeing on the bed. Mainstream news doesn't report on that video because the origin of the video is uncertain. NY Post has made zero effort to verify the authenticity of the documents they have. And they are a right wing tabloid, so have no prior credibility to trade on.

And please post links to your sources. Until then, I am going to go out on a limb and assume that the reason you are not doing so is because they are also coming from sites with little to no credibility.


Authenticity of the image is not disputed by Bidens. :-) Hunter Biden also left drug paraphernalia in the rental car when returning it. There's a police report to that effect. His history of addiction to illicit drugs is even corroborated by CNN, which would gladly sweep it under the rug, if it could. Seriously, this is not a good hill to die on.

And the authenticity of the pee tape has not been disputed by Trump :)[1]

Everyone is aware that Hunter has had drug issues. But HN is not the place to be calling someone a crackhead. Go to reddit for that.

[1] https://futurism.com/the-byte/pee-tape-unclear-deepfake


> And the authenticity of the pee tape has not been disputed by Trump

Now you're just making shit up. It has been, numerous times.


> The repair shop almost certainly retains ownership of unclaimed deviced after some period of time. The shop owns the laptop. The data is theirs to do with as they please and they chose to publish it (at least, that's the story). No hacking necessary.

The "repair shop" is almost certainly a poorly-convinced backstory as to the origin of the hacked materials.

https://www.businessinsider.com/us-intelligence-analysts-hac...

But you are right in saying that hasn't been confirmed yet.


I don't think we should ever take the CEO's official explanation of the reason something happened unless its under oath with clear evidence, otherwise its just PR.

When PR is strategically relevant, the official explanation is a strategic move. So, yes, you should pay attention in this case, even if it's not the whole story.

Hacked meaning something like illegally obtained tax returns? It is clear who twitter is carrying water for.

People ignore what @Jack says because he has a record of saying dumb shit that doesn't pass the sniff test.

The Steele Dossier was widely spread on Twitter and was debunked.

I believe the policy was changed in 2019.

That's news to me. Can you cite a credible source for the debunking? I'd love to read more.


The URL has opinion right there in the middle of it

True, but the text contains facts around which the opinion is based. Those facts are not in dispute.

Many things have been corroborated, nothing has been disproven.

https://www.lawfareblog.com/steele-dossier-retrospective

The idea that it was/is fake is a lie direct from Trump's mouth.


Downvote with reason or response, what a great place for discussion.

I wouldn't mind the policy if it was enforced equally.

Listen more to what people do than what they say.

There is always a good sounding explanation, especially from those with full time PR people on staff.


Its one thing to have a policy. Its another thing that the policy is Right (maybe) and that the policy is Fairly Enforced (almost definitely not).

If this is hacked emails, doesn’t that prove the article is credible?

In the context of Twitter's actions and explanation, it doesn't matter. They aren't trying to ascertain the authenticity. Note the policy is against both hacking and doxxing and this story is doxxing regardless of how the emails were obtained.

I'd say the article is self-consistent, but not necessarily credible. I don't think "hack" means literal network intrusion. If the article's own description of the provenance of the information is taken at face value, cloning a hard drive at a repair shop without authorization still qualifies as "hacked", and in violation of Twitter terms.

The "authorization" is provided by the owner of the laptop, which is legally the owner of the shop, since whoever dropped the machine off signed a contract indicating as much.

Surely you provide authorization to perform a data recovery but not to share the data with the media?

Weird the same standard doesn't apply to tax returns by the federal government. Either have principles and stand by them always, or admit you're covering for one side.

The tax returns were obtained from a credible source, meaning that the documents were almost certainly authentic. Meanwhile, the NY Post has made no effort to verify the authenticity of the hacked material, and it is well known that the GRU will mix false documents when they release hacked material to try and amplify the impact.

Also, NYTimes did not disclose any PII in their articles about Trumps taxes. The NY Post couldn't even be bothered to scrub that out.

Furthermore, it has been widely reported that Giuliani was being targeted by the GRU to launder disinformation[1]. This article is from December 2019[2]. Here is a quote from the article:

"Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) suggested over the weekend that any evidence presented by Giuliani should be scrubbed for possible Russian propaganda..."

So there you go. A republican senator, on record. Anyone who has been paying attention was expecting Giuliani to try and stir up an October surprise, and it was widely known that he was probably going to be laundering GRU disinformation.

[1] https://thehill.com/policy/national-security/521328-intellig... [2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/30/giulianis...


This is non-responsive to whether the documents were hacked or not.

The tax returns were absolutely hacked. There is no question that those documents were not legitimately obtained.


No one knows if they were hacked or not, that is the problem. But the cover story is so flimsy caution is warranted in this case. If it turns out the flimsy cover story was true, and if the NY Post removes PII from their story, then twitter will lift the ban. It is not that complicated.

RE: Tax, the NY Times, which has a long history of credible investigative journalism, has stated that their source had legal access to the documents. They were not obtained by their source via a hack. The source most likely did not have permission to share the documents, but the practice of using anonymous, credible sources has a long history in journalism and is widely accepted as ethical. And the practice of laundering RSU disinformation is generally looked down on. And the NY Post has failed to prove that they aren't laundering RSU disinformation.


owner of hard disk =/= owner of information on it. Anything less, means all the data you store on AWS automatically belongs to Amazon to do with as they please.

Any subset of it could've been fabricated or modified to for the narrative.

Let's see if the emails have DKIM validation again.

If there's a body hash (bh) parameter, then you can pull the DKIM key from DNS and prove one way or another whether it went through a mailserver with that DKIM private key.


From my understanding that is what happened in france in 2017

This is the key point. Twitter blocked the NYPost article before doing any sort of investigation.

Jack is just trying to justify it after the fact.


Just like the policy change he made to privilege government-connected after an extended period of letting Trump get away with violating Twitter’s supposed rules. For some reason, the Trumpeters never combined about that retrospective justification.

The Jack giveth, the Jack taketh away...

That's what happens with a free press when you are at first see as a benefit and later a liability to the person who owns a press...


"policy change he made to privilege government-connected after"

???


Twitter took down the New York Posts twitter account. 4th biggest newspaper in the country.

I don't think platforms like Twitter should act like such a gatekeeper. It's like being a rule maker and a judge at the same time, which could lead to abuse easily.

Free speech prevents the US government from acting like gatekeepers, not private publishers.

1) Was this Twitter policy new as in the last few days?

2) If not, how did they treat the NYT's Trump tax papers ( clearly hacked from some sources, since it was not revealed). For all one knows, at the time of release, it could have been fake?

3) Does twitter/FB have processes to identify hacked material?

For these reasons, @jack's explanation is not being accepted.


It's fascinating to see papers like Washington Post turn their noses up at the Post story because they haven't independently corroborated it, yet they were immediately citing the NYT Tax story as gospel with no indication that they had independently corroborated the legitimacy of that evidence (I tracked down their first articles on the topic via Google News and found nothing indicating that they were able to independently verify the validity of the documents).

This being the same newspaper that was forced to settle a lawsuit after defaming a minor in seven articles by lying about an interaction he had with a protestor--even though the encounter had been recorded and was freely available online.

These are the folks who are sticklers for independent corroboration.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/washington-po...


The New York Post doesn't have a great track record on being factually accurate though, whereas the Washington Post can reasonably assume articles published by the New York Times have undergone some reasonable standard of fact checking (even if imperfect), so it's not a reasonable comparison.

NYT has become increasingly click baitish, and leaves out facts and mis-frames stories all the time. They publish opinion pieces as if they were factual, and and leave out key facts in stories or add opinion in to frame it in a way no reasonable person looking at the hard evidence would assume is the case.

They've lost their standards a while ago. The difference with these papers is they use the same tricks other papers do, they just write in a more "intellectual" fashion so you never question it because you feel smarter just reading it. But you go check multiple sources and you find there is the same kind of spin and framing you'd expect from Fox News on a topic.


>> there is the same kind of spin and framing you'd expect from Fox News

Almost every independent analysis of media bias and journalist quality disagrees with you. In fact, I don't know of one that agrees with you.


Allsides.com rates the NYT (news, not opinion) as 'leans left' and rates Fox News (news, not opinion) as 'leans right'. Which ones disagree?

second this, twitter's bias did not start with the recent one, it has been a while, quite a while.

facebook is no better, google search no better either.

someone should be locked up, to avoid further tensions between two sides and who knows, maybe civil war or something alike. People can die because of its biased censorship.


I really hope someone reached out to the NDA protected people working at FB/twitter to establish exactly where the bias lies.

We know that despite loud voices arguing about conservative bias it is the opposite, that conservative voices get a pass.

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/ne...

The crowd tangle data shows conservative news being the most powerful when it comes to discussions, but Facebook is saying reach is not the same.

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20200531/02142744614/new-s...


This is exactly right. If FB, Twitter or HN apply their Terms of service rules selectively (or that the ToS are biased against specific political candidates or groups or opinions) -- then they are not a neutral platform.

If they are not a neutral platform, these companies must not be able to claim protections reserved for neutral platforms (like this section 230).

It is the same as a for-profit business must not claim same tax benefits as a Non-profit Charity. If they do, their execs will likely face jail time.

Systemic violoaters, would face more jail time.


Well that policy is terrible. It doesn't matter if it is in line with one or another bureaucratic policy, it's still censorship.

Their policy applies to content published on twitter, but does it also apply to linking to (or simply discussing) content published elsewhere? Because twitter has been removing posts and suspending accounts for that.

Linking to doxxing is in and of itself doxxing, so you're now doxxing people on Twitter. This does not necessarily apply to all other rules (e.g., linking to someone making death threats wouldn't constitute you making death threats), but it definitely would to some (you're not going to last long linking CP).

Jack's tweets were clear that "simply discussing" is okay, however.


Twitter allowed the NY Times to post about Trump's tax returns after they were leaked by an IRS employee: https://twitter.com/nytimes/status/1310474354967359489

The official policy appears to be flexible when the leaked supports Twitter's political opinions.


Unless the IRS was hacked, this comparison is invalid.

What hack? The amount of disinformation and lack uninformed opinions is astounding. Try coming back to the middle on politics and reading news sources from one side.

The PC was left at a repair shop unclaimed, it then became the shops property. They were explicitly given access to the material, but Hunter never picked it up, this isn't a hack, and far less a violation of privacy than the Federal Government employee's leaking personal tax information which they are legally obligated to keep private.


Yes this is the incredible flimsy cover story that Hunter Biden drove 2500 miles from his home to leave a laptop with a random person then never came back for it.

This after "US intelligence agencies warned the White House last year that Rudy Giuliani was the target of an influence operation by Russian intelligence, as he gathered information he thought would expose the Bidens."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/giuliani-bi...

Forgive me if i'm fast forwarding past the obvious lies and openly mocking all those who can't do the same.


As if this needed clarification (it very much did not):

https://time.com/5902557/hunter-biden-rudy-giuliani-ukraine/


So obviously no Wikileaks or any “sources inside the $agency with access to information” (but with no clearance to leak) cannot be published on Twitter any more, right? No guessing in who poisoned Navalni, etc... Got it!

Exactly. I guess banning content on a private platform by its private owner is totally okay, at least legally. Banning content with double standards, though, makes the platform editorial, which means people should be able to sue the company left and right.

And hacked in what way? Didn't the repair shop owner take ownership of the computer after repeatedly asking for payment but not getting it? Didn't the owner give the hard drive first to FBI, then to a few media, and then to Giuliani?

As for fact checkers, Twitter didn't really fact check those media who give a report that says "anonymous source says", right? Twitter didn't really fact check that Jack Tapper contradicted himself now and in 2016 on exactly the same fine people hoax, right? Twitter didn't really fact check The Project 1619 that teaches us to hate America with a long list of inaccuracies (if not outright lies) or the critical race theory that claims that all white people are born racists or Asian people are complicit racists because they bought the values like working hard or being good at STEM, right? Or why isn't leaked tax records not "hacked"(FWIW, I'm only arguing the definition of "hacked", not whether it's good or bad to reveal tax record).

Oh wait, I guess I'm not exactly following the righteous narratives here, as all the morally superior mainstream media are doing. So this makes me a what? A bigot? A Nazi? A brown but really white supremacist? A racist?


> Banning content with double standards, though, makes the platform editorial, which means people should be able to sue the company left and right.

Unless Section 230 gets repealed, it's the exact opposite, actually.


Yeah, Section 230 protects them, and I think Twitter shouldn't be protected by 230 for their actions.

> and I think Twitter shouldn't be protected by 230 for their actions

I don't see how. Their actions are explicitly what are protected:

> Civil liability - No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of

> (A)any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230


What do the words “in good faith” mean in that context?

> What do the words “in good faith” mean in that context?

Essentially nothing, which is why a few of the proposed bills to punish tech companies for removing content have tried to turn that into a clause with teeth.


Basically if you took twitters actions and did the exact opposite it would be "in good faith". They just don't give a fuck since they assume they won't suffer consequences.

Hiding negative articles about Biden that wouldn't have been hidden if they were about Trump goes under which of those kinds? Section 230 lets you filter out unrelated disturbing content like porn, it doesn't let you inject political bias.

> Section 230 lets you filter out unrelated disturbing content like porn, it doesn't let you inject political bias.

It's important to remember that it's the first amendment that protects Twitter ability to filter anything it wants on its own platform, but it's the "material that the provider or user considers...otherwise objectionable" part of Section 230 that maintains the liability shield for other content that remains on their platform. That covers removal of essentially any content.


Whether it covers it or not is up to the courts to decide.

At a certain point moderation becomes speech. Literally these words are not my words, they are Meriam-Webster’s. I just chose which ones to include in my comment. In so doing I convey a particular message.

The rest of your polemic aside, specifically what do you think makes Twitter more susceptible to lawsuits here?

I'm assuming it's a reference to the fact that engaging in editorial conduct voids a platform's section 230 safe harbor.

I mean, you can logical fallacy all you want here but this isn't what OP said at all. I'm not agreeing one way or another, but holy weak argument.

It's good to hear we can't publish any leaked information about Trump's tax returns, re the NY Times, a story Twitter intentionally allowed to run at max distribution, along with dozens of prominent anti-Trump stories that ended up being baseless over the last four years which the media happily concocted.

Everyone here knows exactly what's going on and it's rotten as can be.


Which publication do you think has better journalistic integrity? NY Post or NY Times?

Do you think those screenshots of emails were well vetted given the simplicity of verifying email header info if it had been published?


> NY Post or NY Times?

After the 1619 Project, I'm not even sure anymore.


Unless you have a factual error you'd like to report, citing the 1619 project is a tell that you don't like it's conclusions, and anything you dont like is "fake news".

Are you aware that the 1619 Project has been heavily criticised from within the NY Times?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/opinion/nyt-1619-project-...


https://i.imgur.com/7zadiIM.png

Yes I am aware. Bret Stephens was hired to write headlines like this, to appeal to the "fair and balanced" crowd (which will always fail, nothing will ever be enough).


You're not even trying to hide that policies don't matter. Apparently it's all about whether you agree with the author or not.

Social media sites are legally entitled to censure things they disagree with, but it's dishonest how they portray themselves as being non-partizan.


> Social media sites are legally entitled to censure things they disagree with

That's right. But when they do that, can they claim that they are a 'platform' and not a 'publisher' ?

If paulX is a for-profit-business can he claim that his business a non profit and apply tax code designed for non-profit charities ?


The NYTimes just said “trust me, we have the returns, but no, you can’t see them”.

I don’t see a whole lot of difference here.


The fact that NYT didn't post this story says more about their bias than the legitimacy of the story itself. You know full well they would post a story with this level of verifiability if it was damaging for Trump.

> this level of verifiability

As far as I know, literally nothing about the story has been verified.


Are you saying the photos and videos are fakes made by some ML algorithm?

For all you know the Post validated the content itself as real.


The only practical way for the Post to verify the authenticity of the emails is via the DKIM signature. It's also trivial for them to share the emails and their headers as opposed to just sharing screenshots of them, if they're interested in making it easy to verify the emails' authenticity.

I'd say there's a far better chance the photos and videos are real than the emails. Given Biden's political connections I think getting videos of his kid smoking crack would be considered very valuable compared to what it would cost to have some party pal take the video.

Think about how well it works for a scenario like this. Using real videos to legitimize fake emails is an easy win, especially if you don't release either. No on can disprove the legitimacy of the emails and if Biden says they're total BS you release the real videos to add more legitimacy and give the whole thing another news cycle. Then you claim victory and go silent.


The photos are legit, obviously, but the emails as are yet not authenticated. All we got to see was a PDF printout. The full emails, with DKIM headers, being released would solve this problem instantly.

I think that's there point 0 verification and "anonymous sources" is all that's needed vs trump but for everyone else there is at-least some due diligence.

> Which publication do you think has better journalistic integrity?

Should that matter if the criteria for Twitter is whether something contains hacked/leaked materials or PII? Big news often contain the former and most articles contain the latter. Twitter would lose a lot of journalists if they went down that route. Might be good for the sanity of the users though.


I actually do think it matters. I also think there should be a distinction between things leaked by a whistleblower and things leaked by a thief or a patsy. However, since whistleblowers are often putting themselves at significant risk, we end up relying on the integrity of the journalists / publications in terms of taking their word for the legitimacy of the source.

So yeah. A publication that makes a significant effort to vet their source and the story deserves the benefit of the doubt while a publication that acts as a click-bait tabloid without any kind of investigative effort doesn't.

That said, I think Twitter is grasping a bit and trying to use a policy that's right or wrong when the reality is more subjective.

The other thing I don't understand is how revisiting section 230 of the DMCA and turning Twitter into a publisher is going to improve things. If the current publishers don't suffer any repercussions for anything, how will it be different if Twitter is considered the publisher? They're looking for a whipping boy IMO.


I very much do agree with you with regards to giving more trust to companies (or individual journalists) with a good track record. My issue is mostly that Twitter isn't using that as a policy (at least not as a stated policy) but a more vague thing like "can't contain information gained by unauthorized access" and then applies that selectively.

I kind of understand why they don't, because that would likely be hard to quantify and you'd have to decide what basket a company goes into, which would act as a gate keeper (if you don't have a good track record, or none at all, you can't publish visibly) and they'd likely have to constantly monitor for changes. Not something that scales well or can be automated, and definitely something where they'd get roasted each time the NYT commits a faux pas.

> If the current publishers don't suffer any repercussions for anything, how will it be different if Twitter is considered the publisher?

True. In a post-fact world, consequences for publishers reporting falsehoods might need to come back on the table. On the one hand that's a problem because it stifles reporting, on the other hand they have been playing very loose and saying "oops, sorry, we'll do better next time, promise" every time doesn't work.


Well said.

> In a post-fact world, consequences for publishers reporting falsehoods might need to come back on the table. On the one hand that's a problem because it stifles reporting, on the other hand they have been playing very loose and saying "oops, sorry, we'll do better next time, promise" every time doesn't work.

That one flip-flops in my head all the time. Maybe the idea of reduced liability or a higher bar for proving libel / slander in a civil suit against a publisher might be an option, but with _some_ exposure to liability. There has to be a threshold where high quality publishers could bear the costs of honest mistakes, but bad actors would be overwhelmed financially.


If it forces wikileaks to redact the CC details of innocent bystanders then I'm all for it.

I believe they did that without needing promting from Twitter's policy censoring political speech

Twitter would've never picked up on it because the database I'm thinking of that they leaked was basically just a list of donors (i.e. leaking democrat data fits their priors https://theintercept.com/2018/02/14/julian-assange-wikileaks...)

Hunter's laptop wasn't hacked. After abandoning it, the laptop and all its contents became the property of the store owner. This is similar to a storage unit. If you don't pay, the owner is legally justified in taking possession of all your stuff and is not guilty of breaking and entering or theft.

> Twitters official policy is to not allow publication of hacked material or information with Personally Identifying Information - and this material was hacked and had unredacted personal email addresses.

Give me a break. The unauthorized leak of Trump's Tax Returns were all over social media and nothing was done about that.


Their policy didn’t stop them from allowing millions of tweets related to unverified Trump taxes, debunked pee dossier and other Democratic talking points. This is straight up election interference.

> This is straight up election interference.

How is a domestic firm exercising it's Constitutionally-protected free press rights “interference”?


Twitter and Facebook are not just any domestic firms, they do control a major part of social media. They may not have a legal responsibility to hold every post to the same standards, but if they enforce their policies selectively on political grounds, that should surely raise some eyebrows.

Anyway, if Twitter/Facebook ever had the intention to stop dissemination of that NY Post article, it surely backfired.


> Twitters official policy is to not allow publication of hacked material or information with Personally Identifying Information

The root of the issue here is that Twitter is the one deciding this in the first place. What appears on their platform influences large numbers of people. I know it, you know it, and know it too--influencing people to e.g. buy stuff is how they make money after all. It's not hard to understand why a company with such influence making such large impacts without being accountable to the public scares people, particularly those who evidently think differently than those who run these companies.


> without being accountable to the public

Edit (I should have included this), Disclosure: I work at Google Cloud and have worked with folks at Twitter (but never their policy teams or anything).

I would say that compared to many cable news sources, the mean time to response of Twitter and Facebook is actually better. No media company is perfect. Unfortunately, no media company is particularly accountable to the public (anymore).

It’s fair (right?) to be concerned about control of media. I think it’s less clear that Twitter is less accountable, less responsive, or more impactful than other major media sources.


Did Twitter block the NYT story on Trump's taxes, which they did not have any official authority for having?

Do you not know the answer to your question?

The materials were not hacked. They were abandoned at the repair shop and therefore lawfully came to be owned by the repair shop.

Trump's tax returns were hacked, in that the disclosure was not authorised, yet they were shared freely on twitter.

It smells very much like "rules for thee but not for me", which is why people have a problem with it.


There's no evidence that any actual hacking took place to obtain the Biden emails. The article stated that they were obtained from a laptop negligently left at a repair shop.

Twitter just decided to claim that the post is lying, with no evidence and no fact-checking, and then banned the Post Twitter account and every other account that shared the article. At the same time, they allow content like the Panama Papers, Pentagon Papers, multiple Wikleaks, Snowden leaks - which were all obtained by admitted unauthorized hacking.


If you consider the Snowden leaks the result of "hacking" but the current leaks not, what exactly is your definition of "hacking"?

I for one, would specifically exclude the legal owner of a set of data from copying that data and giving it to a third party from the definition of "hacking".

Agreed, assuming there is informed consent - meaning the legal owner was aware of what was happening, was intending to provide the data and was not deceived.

Without those conditions, you'd exclude the whole field of social engineering from hacking, which is all about making the owner "voluntarily" copy data to a third party - and is widely regarded a subset of "hacking".

Also pending the specific circumstances under which you "own" data, which may not be identical with owning the storage medium, as discussed in other posts.


Because the us media and public are disarmed by bad faith arguments.

If you don't want to get dox'd.. get better opsec

Good policy. Sucked execution for different norm.

> I guess no one cares for facts anymore, as long as they see patterns that fit their preconceptions

How about you? Do you think Donald Trump called white supremacists "fine people" or do you care for facts?


"A spokesman for the Biden campaign, Andrew Bates, said that Mr. Biden’s official schedules showed no meeting between Mr. Biden and the advisor." Sounds different to Biden did not meet the advisor. Overly specific dementi are suspicious. And is GRU using authentic emails or fake ones? Because if they are valid, it doesn't matter who obtained them. Just like when the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders during Hillary Clinton's campaign.

I don't understand why any of this matters. Is it just to paint Biden with a 'corruption' brush? Trump's family has already been shown to have done as much or worse than these claims against Hunter, and Trump's network of hotels have been raking in cash for access (recent NYT story: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/10/10/us/trump-prop...).

This is such a strange argument.


If Trump is worse doesn't matter. If there is something true about Hunter and Joe Biden, he would be open to blackmail That's a security risk.

Trump's base doesn't care that he's corrupt. Biden's does.

They don't get held to the same standards because they're playing to different audiences.


They are trying to drag down Biden by implying he is the person mentioned in Hunters family texts, saying that half of their salaries go to "Pops".

It wasn't hacked. Why is it ok for ANYONE, let alone a political party and news orgs, to get away with one-sided comms?

Just as bad, if not worse than Trump.


It wasn’t hacked. It was left at a computer repair shop then never picked up or paid for.

- Can you point me to a link of how this was hacked? My understanding is that the laptop was given to a mac repair place and then they didn't pay for it. I have no idea why someone would do not pay for their repair though. - A lot of people are focusing on the Donald Trump tax returns which were hacked in a way but accepted on Twitter. They have personally identifiable information too as in when you go to the IRS website it asks you for a return's amount as a means of verification etc.

Somebody dropped off a laptop and never identified themselves nor was there any paperwork, and the owner happens to be unable to see anybody well enough to recognize them, and this laptop has highly personal and sensitive information, and nobody ever returns for it or inquires about it? How is anybody taking this story seriously?

1) the emails weren't hacked

2) the NYT articles about Trump's tax returns that were obviously obtained illegally weren't given the same treatment.

3) apparently tweets were also blocked based on hashtags: https://twitter.com/ChrisGolas/status/1316806523243225095


> 2) the NYT articles about Trump's tax returns that were obviously obtained illegally weren't given the same treatment.

This, the unbelievably biased treatment of this throughout the media and social media and good old qui bono tells me all I need to know.

Everything else is just technical details.


This wasn't hacked. It was legally obtained as it was left and became business property after repeated attempts of returning the machine.

Jack's response came much after the censorship actions were taken. You have to analyze with timelime. his PR firm told him he needed to do damage control.

Moreover why was this policy not applied to Trump's alleged tax return? This is one of many examples one could give. You may be too far in the SF bubble or not have a diverse news list.


Having my data in your hard drive does not mean that it allows you to view my my data, unless I specifically I allowed you to do so.

It does, however, mean exactly that if you sign a contract saying "all this stuff belongs to me if you don't pay me and leave it here for 90 days". Most places, from computer shops to car shops, have similar rules regarding abandonment and/or nonpayment.

That’s right.

Please look into how this data was obtained rather than making up legal stuff to feel you’re on the right side.

Even if I sell you my hard drive it does not mean that I grant you access to my data. If that was the case we would just have to get some EOL hard drives from Apple/Microsoft/Google etc and get access to their IP.

Your comparison is not even comparable to a legally agreed forfeiture as it was in this case. Bad snuck premise. Try again.

Taking a picture of people in public is perfectly legal yet it requires no permission. There are countless examples of where permission has nothing to do with legality or legitimacy. Please do your research and stop spreading misinformation about law.

Flame war EOF


When you give your pc to geek squad to change a fan you do not forfeit your rights to your IP. Spin it as you want, but you cannot change the facts. Edit: Feel free to share with us the signed document that the shop owner has from his customer about releasing his data. That form would help his memory about who the customer was anyway.

Again bad snuck premise. If you leave your PC at Geek Squad there is a standard legal clause that states if you do not pick up the item within a certain amount of time then it becomes their property. Being that it is their property they can choose to dispose of it or do whatever they want with it, including reading the information and sharing it.

Geek squad is not a warehouse nor do they want the burden of holding the equipment indefinitely. This is common practice across almost all goods services such as laundry, shoe repair, instrument repair, etc. There’s an overwhelming legal precedence in this case. In this case the shop owner attempted to return the equipment several times but no response was heard, therefore the standard contract clause(s) are executed.

I think where you’re struggling is you’re confusing your emotions, clearly you don’t like this outcome, with legality. Feelings are not facts.

I could cite a whole bunch of legal jargon and cases to utterly destroy your weak argument, but I’ll have mercy keep it high level like above.

I won’t be responding to further comments because we both know you’re just pouting here and you got some free legal education on my dime.


As I said feel free to cite the terms that Hunter Biden signed. We can then discuss about jargon.

Btw Do you mean that there are people paying for your level of legal advice? Good for you man.


So many people downvoting my comment but no substantive replies. No irony wrt censorship here.

> this material was hacked

False. Laptop became the property of the repair shop when nobody paid the bill or turned up to pick it up.


I dont know, I think this is some sort of thing to protect twitter honestly, in case someone hacks and posts something from Twitter. How is hacking any different from stealing? Surely news stories with stolen and even classified content are allowed, I don't understand why hacking is so different.

Twitter adopted this policy because they know that progressives are more likely to be compromised by leaked information

...are you suggesting that progressives have more "dirty laundry" than conservatives in general?

Or that conservatives are more likely to dox people?


The alternate assumption is that both sides are being hacked by a third party, but the third party only releases hacked info from one side...

> ...are you suggesting that progressives have more "dirty laundry" than conservatives in general?

In general yes, that is true. Or said another way: Progressives say different things internally and externally, far more often than Conservative's do.

Usually when Conservatives' emails are hacked there is nothing in them that people don't already know.

Note: I'm not making any judgement on the content of what they say, just the difference between what they say internally vs. externally.


> ...are you suggesting that progressives have more "dirty laundry" than conservatives in general?

Yes. For one thing, if there ever collusion in 2016, it came from the Democrats now established pay-for-play policies, selling US influence to the highest bidder. Once again, knowledge of these actions required multiples hack/leaks to be disclosed.


Or that conservatives tend to be older and less likely to use technology for storing sensitive photos

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