A Facebook spokesperson stated Wednesday the social network was “reducing its distribution” before the narrative had been evaluated with the company’s fact checking spouses. The spokesperson,” Andy Stone, stated that this was “part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.” When Facebook reduces distribution, it does not block a connection from being shared, but it requires steps to ensure it is less observable in consumers’ News Feeds to reduce misinformation from moving viral.
This is a portion of our normal procedure to decrease the spread of misinformation. We temporarily decrease supply pending fact-checker review. https://t.co/vf3CBvLmjj
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
Several hours after the story was initially released, Twitter took a much more competitive step: it blocked the URL from being shared in tweets and lead messages. Previously-tweeted connections today surface a warning which “this link may be unsafe.”
In a statement, a Twitter spokesperson supported the move. “In line with our Hacked Materials Policy, as well as our approach to blocking URLs, we are taking action to block any links to or images of the material in question on Twitter,” that the spokesperson stated, pointing into the company’s policy on hacked materials and guidelines for blocking specific URLs.
Both Facebook and Twitter have recently awakened their coverages on misinformation and election disturbance in an attempt to get ready for presidential elections.
Facebook stated last month it had been “particularly focused on” the danger posed by “hack-and-leak operations,” that was a strategy employed in 2016. The company has also recently broken down on other kinds of viral misinformation and disinformation, such as QAnon and militia movements, Holocaust refusal and anti-vaccine advertising. Twitter has also updated a few coverages with an eye on the weeks and days following the election, also has stated it will restrict retweets in certain instances to stop misinformation from spreading.
Update 10/14 8 ):00pm ET: In a succession of tweets, Twitter further explained why it had blocked the NY Post narrative, mentioning its anti-doxxing rules in addition to this “hacked materials” policy. “The images contained in the articles include personal and private information — like email addresses and phone numbers — which violate our rules,” the company wrote.
“Commentary on or talk about waxed substances, like posts that pay them but don’t contain or link to the substances themselves, are not a breach of the policy. Our policy only covers hyperlinks to or pictures of hacked substance themselves. The policy, based in 2018, prohibits using our service to disperse content accessed without consent. We do not wish to incentivize hacking by allowing Twitter to be applied as supply for potentially illegally acquired materials.
“We understand we’ve got more work to do to give clarity in our merchandise once we apply our rules this way. We should provide additional clarity and circumstance when averting the Tweeting or DMing of all URLs that violate our policies”
Our communicating around our activities onto the @nypost post wasn’t terrific. And blocking URL sharing through tweet or DM without any context as to why we are obstructing: unacceptable. https://t.co/v55vDVVlgt
— port (@jack) October 14, 2020
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also stated the company’s handling of this problem was “not great” and the absence of “context” for your company’s activities was “unacceptable.”