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Twitter softens policy on hacking after row over blocked New York Post story

Twitter softens policy on hacking after row over blocked New York Post story. Criticism from Republicans and others prompts move – but Joe Biden story remains blocked

Twitter has softened its policies against the sharing of hacked material after the backlash over its decision to block a New York Post story about Joe Biden’s son.

Republican Senators declared their intention to subpoena the Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey next week, forcing him to explain the decision, after he apologised for the lack of communication around the block.

Related: Biden article row shows how US election is testing Facebook and Twitter

The story, supposedly based on materials stolen from Hunter Biden’s laptop by a computer repair shop, was blocked by Twitter on two grounds, the company said. First, it contained personal information such as private email addresses; and second, it contained hacked material, violating a policy instituted in 2018 to try to limit “hack-and-leak” information operations of the sort run by the Russian state in 2016.

That latter policy has now been weakened, Twitter’s policy chief, Vijaya Gadde, said late on Thursday.

So, what’s changing?

1. We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them

2. We will label Tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter

— Vijaya Gadde (@vijaya) October 16, 2020

“We will no longer remove hacked content unless it is directly shared by hackers or those acting in concert with them,” Gadde tweeted. “We will label tweets to provide context instead of blocking links from being shared on Twitter.”

The policy against hacked materials had led to concern, going beyond Republican politicians and activists, that Twitter could penalise reporting around hacks, limiting legitimate journalism, Gadde said. “We want to address the concerns that there could be many unintended consequences…

Alex Hern

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