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Editorial: But his emails: On Twitter and Facebook's treatment of a dubious expose

By Daily News Editorial Board, New York Daily News on

Published in Op Eds

There are huge credibility questions swirling around a series of reports by the tabloid across town, all of which emanate from a laptop, said to be Hunter Biden's, supposedly left behind at a Delaware repair shop. On that computer, says the New York Post, is a 2015 email suggesting Joe Biden's son tried to arrange for a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm to meet with his father.

There are many red flags, and by "red" we purposely evoke 2016 election meddler Russia: unreliable sources including Rudy Giuliani, a strange and contradictory timeline and the highly dubious electronic fingerprints of the supposed smoking-gun documents themselves.

Time will tell, but we wonder whether a pro-Trump GRU operative sitting in a dark room would've come up with something much more damning than this. There just isn't much anti-Biden there.

What concerns us is the way two major conduits by which Americans get their news online, Twitter and Facebook, have all but disappeared the Post's reports as they undertake efforts to verify them.

Facebook and Twitter have community guidelines, but they routinely let people share links on everything from health to religion to crime to politics without preemptively and independently fact-checking each one. Indeed, as Post opinion writer Sohrab Ahmari pointed out, they did nothing to hinder the dissemination of a number of negative stories about Donald Trump that subsequently proved far less than meets the eye.

 

The platforms are right to be on guard for foreign election meddling, and it's true that a lie can now travel around the world a hundred times, with the truth having no chance to catch up. They need to root out deep-fake videos and pernicious, glaring, hateful falsehoods.

But when a real American news outlet, albeit less than perfect, publishes a questionable story, the platforms are far better off flagging it as suspect rather than sending it down a memory hole. This isn't government censorship, but it's censorship, and it only feeds suspicion, corrosive distrust and legitimate complaints about double standards.

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